Phosphorous and calcium contents in forages preferred by African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Rimoi game reserve and conservation Area, Kenya
Joseph Arusey koskey
The African elephant (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach) is the largest land mammal and its strategy of altering seasonally between grass and browse is related to the plants calcium (Ca) and Phosphorous (P) contents. The study was done in Rimoi Game Reserve and conservation in 2010. Forage preference was deduced from recent feeding trails of African elephants. The diet was deduced from records of plants which showed obvious signs of recent elephant use. Debarked, browsed or grazed vegetation were picked with the use of secateurs. For each sampled tree or vegetation, areas showing signs of feeding like the leaves or bark samples were taken for nutrient analysis. Picking was done for three hours every two days a week from 7.00 am. Picking was done at the onset of the planting, harvesting and dry season. Results showed that there were significant differences in the levels of phosphorous (ANOVA; F= 112.137, df =20, P= 0.000) and Calcium (ANOVA; F= 34.553, df = 20, P = 0.000). The preferred diet of elephants showed a mean Phosphorous of 0.21± 0.03%. The study showed the elephants were under stress for both nutrients. Further investigation is required to a certain the nutrient availability in the animal alimentary canal.