Habitat Use and Diet Composition of the Common Eland (Tragelaphus oryx) in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Keywords:Tragelaphus oryx, Habitat utilization, Food composition, Herbivore, Conservation of elands, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is renowned worldwide for its multiple land use where pastoralism and wildlife conservation co-exist. Thus, the NCA must meet a delicate balance of competing needs between livestock and wildlife. Currently the NCA is conducting resettlement program to facilitate pastoralists who are willing to move and resettle outside of the conservation area in order to reduce the number of people and livestocks in NCA. The common eland (Tragelaphus oryx) are among the large herbivore species found in the NCA that might be affected by possible competition between livestock and wildlife. The information on this species including habitat utilization and feeding ecology is limited. This study therefore, investigated the factors influencing habitat use and diet composition of the common eland (Tragelaphus oryx) in NCA. Data were collected along 82 pre-established transects using direct field survey. The study therefore assessed habitat use, distribution patterns, diet composition and conservation threats facing the common eland in NCA, The results indicated that the grassland habitat was mainly used by elands (> 85% in both dry and wet seasons), while other habitats were least used (< 15%). Eland diet composition varied significantly among plant species, with the animals most frequently feeding on Themeda triandra but rarely on Vachellia tortilis and Hibiscus aponeurus. The study concludes with recommendations for enhancement of grassland habitat management and reduced anthropogenic activities to enhance eland conservation in NCA.