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On the Ecology of the Gerenuk Litocranius walleri

Walter Leuthold
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 561-580
DOI: 10.2307/3801
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801
Page Count: 21
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On the Ecology of the Gerenuk Litocranius walleri
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Abstract

(1) In the context of extensive vegetation changes in Tsavo National Park, Kenya, studies were carried out on the gerenuk, or Waller's gazelle, to determine its ecological requirements and assess its probable future status in the park. (2) Contrary to earlier reports, the gerenuk's range, in north-eastern Africa, is continuous. The species prefers lightly bushed habitats, avoiding open grassy areas and dense woodland or forest. Crude density in the study area was 0.5-1 animals/km2. (3) The gerenuk is an exclusive browser feeding mainly on leaves and shoots of a considerable variety of trees and shrubs; its diet shows marked seasonal and local variations related to vegetation condition and availability. (4) Known individuals inhabited home ranges of 1.5-3.5 km2 in area (2-3 km in diameter). In one study area they moved seasonally between different vegetation types, but in another area without clearcut stratification of the vegetation no such movements were recorded. (5) Data are presented on reproduction, which is non-seasonal, and other features of life history; the adult/subadult sex ratio was about sixty-five males: 100 females. (6) Compared with other ungulates the gerenuk is particularly adapted to arid conditions, not least by its independence of free water. Its future status in Tsavo National Park will depend primarily on trends in rainfall and populations of other large mammals, particularly elephants, as well as on human influences.

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