Unit # 1
Biology and Ecology
In this African Herbivores Course, students will learn about the basic ecology and biology of herbivores found in Africa. Students will also discover how these species are studied in their natural habitat.
Unit # 2
The second unit of this African Herbivores course explores the various methods of conserving herbivores in Africa. There is a particular focus on some key species to include African Elephants and the Cuvier’s Gazelle.
African Herbivores Course
The African herbivores course is designed to give students an understanding of the basic ecology and biology of common herbivores in Africa.
These include browsers, grazers, white rhino, black rhino, folivores, nectarivores, pollenivores, granivores, frugivores, Howler Monkey, Okapi, African Grey Parrots, Fruit Bats, Elephant, Zebra, Giraffe, Wldebeest, Kudu, Hippo, Cape Buffalo, Camels, Impala, Gemsbok, Buck, and Eland.
Herbivores are animals that consume plant matter in order to sustain themselves. Within the herbivorous dietary specialisation are “browsers” and “grazers” which categorises animals according to the type of vegetation they consume.
Browsers are herbivores that are adapted to consume the leaves and other parts of trees and shrubs, whereas grazers consume grasses and herbs. “Folivores” are herbivores that primarily consume leaves, while “frugivores” primarily consume fruit, “nectarivores” feed on nectar, “pollenivores” feed on pollen, and “granivores” typically consume large portions of seeds/grains. Examples of folivorous species found in Africa are the Howler monkey and Okapi, whereas African Grey Parrots and Fruit Bats are frugivores. As with the classifications of browsers and grazers it must never be assumed that grazers eat only grasses and browsers eat only leaves and parts of trees or shrubs. Similarly, folivores may also include grasses and fruits or other vegetative matter in their diet, and frugivores do not eat only fruit. Often seasonal variation in plant availability will dictate a change or flexibility in the diet of herbivores. For example, the Hippopotamus is typically considered a specialist grazer but is also known to browse on aquatic vegetation and will even consume meat if it is available (e.g. scavenging on carcasses). Therefore, these classifications are based on the predominant type of vegetative matter consumed by the animals and are not to be thought of as all-encompassing descriptions of an animal’s diet. Having said that, some species are exclusive or specialists, for example the White Rhino is an exclusive grazer and is not known to change its diet with season. The dentition (teeth) of animals can often tell you a lot about their diet, with animals adapted to eating coarse vegetative material possessing large molars to grind the plant material prior to swallowing. This course explores the ecology, biology and conservation of African herbivores.