alexa Alternating sexual segregation during the mating season by male African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Agri and Aquaculture

Agri and Aquaculture

Poultry, Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences

Author(s): Wendy C Turner, Norman OwenSmith, Anna E Jolles

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Patterns of association in many ungulate species vary throughout the year, with males periodically segregating from females. Sexual segregation can occur if males and females use different habitats (habitat segregation), occupy exclusive ranges (spatial segregation) or occur in separate social groups (social segregation). Previous studies on social segregation in ungulates have focused mostly on non-reproductive periods and species in temperate systems with short mating seasons. This study examined social segregation in African buffalo Syncerus caffer at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, during their 6-month mating season. During this period, mature male buffalo alternated between joining mixed-sex herds which comprise females and young, and small all-male groups. Activity patterns of male buffalo in both group types were examined to determine if differences in time allocation or activity asynchrony could explain the observed segregation. Mature males foraged for less time than both adult females and younger males when they were with mixed herds. Mature male buffalo differed in how their active time was apportioned to foraging and reproductive activities between the two group types. Females maintained group cohesion despite only low synchrony in activity, therefore segregation of male buffalo could not be explained by the activity budget hypothesis. For males in mixed-sex herds, reproductive activities were apparently at the expense of foraging time. The high time and energy costs of reproductive activities were probably responsible for the periodic separation of male buffalo from mixed herds during the extended mating period.

This article was published in Journal of Zoology and referenced in Poultry, Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences

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