Palynological analysis of faecal matter in African Forest Elephants Loxodonta cyclotis (Mammalia: Proboscidea: Elephantidae) at Omo Forest Reserve, Nigeria

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Okwong John Walter
Olusola Helen Adekanmbi
Omonu Clifford


The factors affecting African Forest Elephants include food availability, demand for ivory and changes in land-use. In order to survive, they tend to traverse considerable distances in search of food; on such occasions they are trapped and killed for their ivory.  This present study is aimed at assessing the faecal matter of elephants, and at providing information on the season of ingestion and foraging preferences of these elephants.  Faecal matter was collected at nine different locations for one year before being processed and subjected to standard palynological laboratory procedures.  The analyses showed that the samples had moderately abundant and diversified palynomorphs.  A total of 27 palynomorphs belonging to 22 families with a total count of 2,895 accounting for 94.34% were found to be eaten, while other plant fragments (epidermal cells, xylem vessel elements, and seeds) accounted for 5.66%.  The wet and dry seasons accounted for 73.26% and 26.74% respectively.  Epidermal cells and xylem vessel elements recorded (70.76%) and (29.2%) during the dry and wet seasons, respectively.  In the palynological analysis, pollen of Balanites wilsoniana, Desplatsia subericarpa, Chrysophyllum albidum, among others were recovered in the faecal matter.  Pollen analysis of faecal matters provided no information about the quantitative composition of the natural vegetation of elephants, but rather valuable information about their diet. It is recommended that these preferentially foraged parent plants should be cultivated on a large scale.  This would potentially reduce competition for food and movement of these animals to other greener areas, consequently leading to poaching.


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Author Biography

Olusola Helen Adekanmbi, Center for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, 100213, Nigeria.

Seniour lecturer

The Department of Botany

University of Lagos.