A study on the population status, feeding ecology and activity pattern of common bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus decula) was carried out in the Sekele Mariam Forest from December 2016 to August 2017 including wet and dry seasons. Data were collected using total count and direct observation method. The collected data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and compared with Chi-square test and one way ANOVA. Average number of bushbuck in the study area was 47 and 30 during the wet and dry season, respectively. There was no significant difference between the wet and dry season in the population size (c2 = 0.17, df = 2, P > 0.05). Of the total individuals observed, 70.1% constituted adults, 22.1% sub-adults and 7.8% were young. The maximum group size was 4 and 3 observed during wet and dry seasons, respectively. The minimum group size recorded was 1 during both wet and dry seasons. The sex ratio of adult males to adult females was 1:1.58 and 1:1.87, sub adult males to sub adult female 1:1.40 and 1:1.50 during wet and dry seasons, respectively. Bushbucks were mostly browser than grazer during both seasons. They consumed a total of 20 plant species in the study area. Most preferred food item was Maytenus arbutifolia (16%) followed by Maytenus gracilipes (15.2%). Young leaves and mature leaves comprised the largest proportion of the food items consumed. There was significant difference between plant part consumed by bushbuck during wet and dry seasons (c2 = 88.22, df = 4, P ≤ 0.05). Feeding was the major activity (45.1%), followed by resting (22.3%), whereas fighting (1.3%) was the least activity conducted by the animal. There was significant difference (F 8, 974 = 6.95, P< 0.05) between daily activity patterns within time of the day. In order to increase the number of bushbucks’ and to create a suitable habitat different conservation measures like avoiding agricultural encroachment and fragmentation should be taken.
Key words: Activity pattern, bushbuck, feeding ecology, population status.
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