Comparisons of vegetation use and herbivore biomass on a Rhodesian game and cattle ranch.
Botanical composition, utilization of vegetation and animal biomass were compared on the 12 000-ha cattle section and 8 000-ha game section of Buffalo Range Ranch in SE Rhodesia. 10 large herbivore spp. were present on the game section. The total animal biomass on the game section was approx. the same as that on the cattle section, where a few game animals were present. Percentage utilization of herbaceous vegetation on the game section was 43% but only 28% on the cattle section. 12 grass spp. were utilized >10% by cattle, as opposed to 20 spp. by game. Up to 20% of the available browse (woody trees and shrubs) was utilized by game compared to 7-8% on the cattle section, where only a few game were present. Grazing by cattle was less area-specific than that by game animals. This was due partly to controlled management of the cattle and partly to inherent behavioural patterns of the wild spp. The game showed a wider choice of plant spp. but both game and cattle preferred the same herbaceous (grass) plants. Cover abundance, litter cover and ht. of grass were greater on the cattle section, whilst soil capping, moribund grass and the extent of soil erosion were lower on the game section. There was also a higher density of shrubs (woody plants <3 m) on the cattle section.