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Do elephants prevent other African herbivores from using waterholes in the dry season?

Abstract : In some African protected areas, concerns have arisen about the inXuence of locally high elephant numbers on other forms of biodiversity. In arid and semi-arid savannas, surface-water resources are scarce and agonistic interactions between elephants and other herbivores have been reported at waterholes, yet surprisingly very little is known about the impact of elephants on the use of waterholes by other herbivores. Here, we test whether when there are elephants at a waterhole, other herbivores (1) do not change their drinking behaviour; (2) spend shorter time around the water because they are disturbed by elephants' presence and consequently have to leave the waterhole area probably without having met their water requirements, or (3) spend more time around the water probably owing to an increase in vigilance activities or because the presence of elephants may signal safety from predators. Results show that all species spend longer time around water when there are elephants at the waterhole, although the diVerence is not large. Consequently, this study strongly suggests that elephants do not prevent other herbivores from drinking (time at waterholes is not shortened when elephants are around). Further, if the additional time spent to drink is linked to an increased vigilance, the diVerence is not large, and hence unlikely to aVect the population dynamics of other herbivores.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00362887
Contributor : Martine Lacalle <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 4:18:10 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 5:20:06 PM

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Marion Valeix, Hervé Fritz, Violaine Canévet, Sébastien Le Bel, Hillary Madzikanda. Do elephants prevent other African herbivores from using waterholes in the dry season?. Biodiversity and Conservation, Springer Verlag, 2009, 18 (3), pp.569-576. ⟨10.1007/s10531-008-9523-0⟩. ⟨hal-00362887⟩

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