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Population Ecology and Response to Cropping of a Hippopotamus Population in Eastern Zambia

P. J. Marshall and J. A. Sayer
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 13, No. 2 (Aug., 1976), pp. 391-403
DOI: 10.2307/2401788
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2401788
Page Count: 13
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Population Ecology and Response to Cropping of a Hippopotamus Population in Eastern Zambia
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Abstract

(1) The hippopotamus population of the Luangwa valley National Parks in eastern Zambia has increased by 200 to 500% during 1950 to 1972. Population growth has been greatest in areas where elephants are most abundant. In some parts of the area population growth rate is now decreasing. (2) Population parameters were measured for a sample of 652 hippopotamus cropped in 1970-1 from 24 km of river which contained 626 hippopotamus when the study began. (3) The animals were aged using criteria developed in Uganda and some anomalies occurred when these criteria were applied to the Zambian sample. (4) Conception dates were calculated from foetal weights and used to investigate seasonality of breeding. The peak of births occurred during the period of maximum rainfall, a similar situation to that found in the Uganda population. (5) Calf production was not precisely determined as the cropping season overlapped the breeding season. A population model indicated a calving rate of 66% of the mature female population, higher than that found in the Uganda population. (6) Cropping was carried out in two successive dry seasons, the area was recolonized by hippopotamus in the intervening rainy season. (7) The significance of the data for the management of the population is discussed.

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