Sex differences in elephant diet


As elsewhere in the range, the Chobe elephants are primarily grazers in the wet season and browsers in the dry season. With their specialized feeding apparatus and physical strength, they are adapted for the efficient harvesting of woody plants during feeding by plucking twigs and fruits, debarking stems and roots, stripping leaves, uprooting saplings and felling trees. Pregnant or lactating females have different nutritional needs to those of males and females have a qualitative different diets. Bull elephants feed less selectively on abundant forage of lower quality that has higher fibre and lower digestibility when compared with cows and their offspring in family units.

Bull elephants browse from a lower diversity woody plants and exploite a wider range of plants parts, as compared to cows, cows and their young ones will pick out the best plants part from many plants selected from a higher number of species.

Bulls are likely to consume larger branches (bigger bite diameter) and break off thicker stems. Bull elephants do spend more time at each browsing or feeding sight. Bull elephants engage in more uprooting, braking branches nd knocking trees down. Females and their young ones feed more by stripping leaves, there by investing less lignin and more digestible matter.


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