Diet and feeding behaviour of the forest elephant in the Santchou Reserve, Cameroon
This study reports the diet and feeding behaviour of forest elephants in Western Cameroon.
Diet consisted primarily of grass (Pennisetum purpureum ). Woody material (leaves and stems) made up the smallest proportion of the diet. Twenty-two species of fruit were eaten of which seven formed a significant component of the diet: Cucurmis manii, Desplatsia subericarpa, Irvingia gabonensis, Parinari excelsa, Strychnos innocuea, Theobroma cacao and Vitex doniana . The greatest variety of fruit was available during the dry season. The frequent presence of crop seeds in the dung piles indicated that elephant incursions into the farms to feed on crops were regular. Elephants removed bark from eight species of tree but concentrated on four: Afzelia bipindensis, Coloncoba welwitschii, Bridelia ferruginea and Terminalia superba . Seventeen species were recorded as browsed. Trees in particular were favoured. Elephants fed mainly by grazing or stripping off fruits. Debarking of trees, breaking of the main stems, and uprooting or pushing over were minor feeding activities.