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Food Quality in Lusaka National Park: Tracking Mortality in Black Lechwe Antelopes

Nyambe, Kenneth, Chama, Lackson, Siachoono, Stanford, Mubemba, Benjamin
Journal of applied animal welfare science 2017 v.20 no.3 pp. 219-229
animal welfare, antelopes, disease incidence, food quality, habitats, mortality, national parks, necropsy, veterinarians, wetlands, wildlife management, Zambia
Translocation is one of the fundamental tools in wildlife management but only if appropriately undertaken. In 2009, 30 black lechwe antelopes were suddenly translocated from the State House Habitat (STH) into the newly established Lusaka National Park (LNP). However, within 4 months of being translocated to LNP, 28 black lechwes (93%) died. A pathological report produced by veterinarians following a postmortem examination suggested no disease incidence affected the antelopes. The food quality of LNP was tested and compared to that in the STH and the antelopes’ native habitat of the Bangweulu wetlands (BGW) to establish if variations in food quality were responsible for the antelopes’ mortality. The findings suggest that the food quality in LNP was greatly inferior to that in STH, which could explain the observed high mortality of the antelopes in LNP. Further, the quality of food in LNP did not widely differ from that in the BGW, suggesting that the antelopes might not have survived had they been translocated to their native habitat, as they had already adapted to feeding on highly nutritious supplementary feed at the STH.