African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6576

Full Length Research Paper

Seasonal habitat use and movement patterns of cattle grazing different rangeland types in the communal areas of the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Bethwell Moyo
  • Bethwell Moyo
  • Department of Livestock and Pasture Science, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa.
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Sikhalazo Dube
  • Sikhalazo Dube
  • Animal Production Institute, Agricultural Research Council, Irene, 0062, South Africa.
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Mota Lesoli
  • Mota Lesoli
  • Department of Livestock and Pasture Science, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa.
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Patrick Masika
  • Patrick Masika
  • Agricultural and Rural Development Research Institute, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa.
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  •  Accepted: 22 November 2012
  •  Published: 31 January 2013

Abstract

 

Understanding cattle ranging behaviour and habitat selection in African communal rangelands helps to inform resource management strategies. This study investigated seasonal variation in habitat selection and home range size of cattle in two rangeland types in communal areas of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The average annual home range size of cattle was larger in the sweetveld than the coastal forest thornveld. Cattle ranged more widely in autumn and spring in the sweet and coastal forest thornveld respectively. Cattle preferred dense vegetation habitat dominated by shrubland in winter and spring in the coastal forest thornveld and the dense vegetation habitat was preferred in autumn and spring in the sweetveld. Kraaling in the coastal forest thornveld limited wide ranging because of better availability of good quality forage. Livestock utilize shrubland vegetation along water courses during the dry season and, therefore, management strategies should aim at preserving this key resource area through prevention of bush encroachment, overgrazing and soil erosion by allowing access to such areas during drier periods.

 

Key words: Communal areas, habitat selection, home range, spatial pattern, free-ranging cattle.