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Geophagy by Large Mammals at Natural Licks in the Rain Forest of the Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic

Gregor Klaus, Corinne Klaus-Hugi and Bernhard Schmid
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 14, No. 6 (Nov., 1998), pp. 829-839
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2560276
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Geophagy by Large Mammals at Natural Licks in the Rain Forest of the Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic
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Abstract

Geophagy (soil eating) by the forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and other mammal species in the Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic, has led to large treeless licks. The geological and physical properties of these licks were studied and the chemical characteristics and particle sizes of geophagical lick soils were compared with soils from the forest and from licks where evidence of geophagy was absent. Average lick size of 20 licks in the Hokou lick area was 12,900 m2 (SE = 3,400 m2). Licks were situated exclusively in areas of outcropping dolerite intrusions. Physico-chemical analysis of the geophagical lick soil showed significantly higher quantities of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and clay compared with the other soils. Several samples of the geophagical lick soil had lower nutrient levels than the mean level of forest topsoil, indicating that nutrient supplementation is probably not the only reason for geophagy. The high clay content of the geophagical soil may help absorbing and combating secondary plant compounds. Pronounced geophagy in rainforests may be a sign for poor habitat quality for large mammals living in these ecosystems.

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