The Journal of Agricultural Science

Research Article

Game domestication for animal production in Kenya: activity patterns of eland, oryx, buffalo and zebu cattle

J. G. Lewisa1

a1 African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, P.O. Box 48177, Nairobi, Kenya


Studies of the day-time activity of night-enclosed eland, oryx, buffalo and cattle in a hot, semi-arid area in Kenya showed that, on average, eland spent 70% of the day feeding, oryx 60% and buffalo and cattle 52%.

The distribution of activity throughout the day of all species was similar and the mobile activities of feeding and walking tended to be concentrated in the early morning and late evening.

Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used to investigate changes in the activity of the animals in relation to changes in meterological and vegetative factors. The activity of both eland and buffalo was found to be particularly sensitive to the meterological factors.

The duration of feeding for cattle and buffalo was related to the state of the vegetation, but that of the oryx was not. Similar analyses were not possible for eland.

The activity of each species could be related to mouth size, feeding habits and the effectiveness of the animals' coat in dealing with conditions of high heat load.

It is concluded that a naturally short daily feeding time and an independence of activity from the environmental heat load on the animals are advantageous characteristics for a species under domestication in a hot semi-arid environment.

(Revised March 23 1977)

(Received March 23 1977)


p1 Present address: Hunting Technical Services Ltd, Elstree Way, Boreham Wood, Herts.