The ecology of the Kafue lechwe: its nutritional status and herbage intake.

Published online
01 Jan 1978
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Rees, W. A.

Publication language
Africa South of Sahara & Zambia


The levels of blood urea, Ca, P, Na and K in the lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis) blood sera were determined and compared with a standard. Blood urea was higher than expected from the low values of N recorded from soil and plant analyses. Selective grazing for young grasses and herb spp. high in N could have been a contributory factor. The soils and plants were deficient in P, but the data suggest that the P levels in the lechwe exceeded the standard. No adverse effects in the lechwe could be attributed to the high K levels. Ca and Na were similar to the standards. The conc. of P and N in the lechwe faeces were low. An indication of herbage intake by lechwe was sought. The quality of the intake was determined by analysing herbage sub-samples (by plant parts and by species composition) from the rumens of shot lechwe. The females selected for leaves for 2 months more than the males and the nutrient values of the plant spp. in their rumens tended to be higher. Present knowledge suggests that many digestive processes may be similar for all ruminants and there are indications that wild ruminants may require a greater quantity of ME to meet maintenance requirements than domesticated ruminants. From published data it has been estimated that the maintenance requirement of a Kafue lechwe of av. wt. (66.0 kg) is 3100 J ME/24 h.

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