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Habitat preferences of the secretive forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) in Central Africa


Mario Melletti, Department of Animal and Human Biology, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, Vle. dell'Università 32, 00185 Rome, Italy.


The forest buffalo Syncerus caffer nanus is one of the three subspecies of African buffalo inhabiting the rainforests of Western and Central Africa. Because of its secretive behaviour and main habitat (dense rainforests), there is little quantitative information on the habitat preferences of this buffalo. We present here the first data on the frequencies of this species along a habitat gradient ranging from clearings and rivers to forests, as well as the characteristics of the buffalo's resting places. We recorded information from a buffalo herd during the period January 2002–January 2004 in the Bai-Hokou area (Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic). Resting places were firstly compared with available habitat (i.e. resting vs. random sites) and, successively, comparisons were made between diurnal versus nocturnal and wet versus dry season resting places. Forest buffalos were found to be highly dependent on clearings, as well as on the more open forest stands, characterized by large trees and open canopy. Such preferences could be due to the tendency of the buffalos to rest all together; open patches are likely to facilitate social interactions between the members of the herd.

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