Diet of the puku antelope in Kasanka National Park, Zambia
Diet and dietary competition among puku (Kobus vardonii) and other grazing bovids were investigated in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, a prime area for puku. The objective was to provide new insights into the puku’s feeding ecology including autecological and synecological traits. Other bovids assessed for their diets were sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii), reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), Lichtenstein’s hartebeest (Alcelaphus lichtensteinii), sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Dung was collected during different periods in 2009 and 2010 and examined using microhistological analyses. The diets were assessed for potential differences or overlap using the Pianka Index. Puku feed mainly on monocotyledons and consumed Panicum spp., Brachiaria sp., Sporobolus spp. and Hyparrhenia/Andropogon grasses. Differences in dietary composition between sexes were observed, especially during the cool dry season, as well as differences at a temporal and spatial scale. It can be concluded that puku exhibit a flexible diet with regard to grass species. Diet breadth changed throughout the year being narrowest in the late rainy season but showed no sexual differences. The dietary overlap of puku with other grazing bovids was low. This combination contributes to the puku’s extraordinary situation in Kasanka National Park.