Feeding ecology of Walia Ibex Capra walie (Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Bovidae) in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

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D. Ejigu
A. Bekele
L. Powell


Walia Ibex Capra walie is an endemic and endangered species residing in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia.  It has shifted its range within the Park in the last decade, and in this study our main objective was to provide information on their feeding ecology to inform recovery goals.  We used a scan sampling method to collect foraging information during October 2009 to November 2011.  Our observations suggest a diverse diet of more than 28 species of grasses, forbs, and shrubs.  The most commonly used plants were Festuca sp., Lobelia rhynchopetalum, Helichrysum citrispinum, and Helichrysum horridum.  Walia Ibex were active in feeding before and after mid-day, and time spent feeding was the highest compared with other diurnal activities.  The percentage of time spent feeding on major plant species did not differ between wet and dry seasons (p> 0.05).  Walia Ibex, however, tended to spend more time browsing than grazing.  The generalist nature of foraging behaviour in Walia Ibex most likely contributes to complaints from the local people who witness Walia Ibex raiding crops cultivated in and around the Park.  Thus, the contribution of crop raiding to the shifts in the species’ range towards higher altitudes at Sebatminch within Simien Mountains National Park emphasizes the need to consider foraging ecology as community-based conservation efforts are developed to support Walia Ibex in the Park. 

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