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IUCN 2nd African Buffalo Symposium

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This digital collection includes presentations from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2nd African Buffalo Symposium, which was held in conjunction with the 9th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium in 2016.


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Program of the 9th international wildlife ranching symposium: wildlife - the key to prosperity for rural communities
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Abstracts of parallel sessions are included. Symposium includes 4 Plenary sessions, and parallel sessions covering Wildlife Management; Sustainable Use of Wildlife; and IUCN 2nd African Buffalo Symposium.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Sustainably managing buffalo trophy quality
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Robertson, Kevin, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    To be successful, wildlife utilization needs to be financially, ecologically and genetically sustainable. Regarding buffalo, trophy hunters invariably target the highest scoring, largest-horned bulls with little regard to their age or breeding status. This is a situation compounded by ill-conceived trophy scoring methods which actively encourage the hunting of pre-breeding or active breeding bulls. Over time the 'best' trophy genetics have consequently been lost and as a result trophy quality is dropping. This presentation will in detail explain the Taylor first molar teeth buffalo aging process and demonstrate how it is possible to age live buffalo bulls accurately. It will also help participants to identify breeding age bulls and those considered to be of post breeding age. The presentation will also demonstrate how to trophy score live buffalo accurately. Suggestions will also be made as to how to change public opinion as to what should constitute a 'real' buffalo trophy.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Comparative analysis of forest buffalo grouping patterns in Central Africa
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Melletti, Mario, author; Groenenberg, Milou, author; Breuer, Thomas, author; Turkalo, Andrea K., author; Hogg, Forrest, author; Ekouoth, Davy, author; Korte, Lisa, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Understanding the social organization of elusive forest-dwelling ungulates may have important conservation and management implications. We present a comparison of grouping patterns in forest buffalo across different sites and through time in Central African rainforest. We examined five sites: Mbeli Bai and Bonye Bai (Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo), Dzanga Bai and Bai-Hokou (Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, C.A.R.) and Lopé-Okanda National Park (Gabon).Buffalo showed high site fidelity to open areas, including forest clearings. Forest buffalo herds (mean 12 ind. ± SD; range 3-24) were much smaller than records of savanna buffalo herds (mean 350 ind. ± SD; range 12-1500>), but also showed frequently fission-fusion patterns. Data from Mbeli Bai collected from 2012 to 2016confirm a stable presence of two buffalo herds (range 9-10 ind.) with occasional visits by lone individuals. Observations from Dzanga Bai over a period of 10 years (2006-2016) confirm the occurrence of only one buffalo herd (range 8-10ind.). In Bai-Hokou site, a single buffalo herd increased from 16 to 24 individuals during a three year period (2001-2004). Finally in Lopé National Park (a mosaic of savanna and forest fragments), the mean group size for 18 herds monitored from2002 to 2004 was 12±2 ind. (range of means=3–24). We analysed if herd size and herd stability are affected by clearing size, clearing type (e.g. marsh or land) and grass coverage across different sites and through time.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Health and demographics of African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Roug, Annette, author; Mathayo, Daniel, author; Muse, Epaphras A., author; Banga, Paul, author; Clifford, Deana, author; Smith, Woutrina, author; Mazet, Jonna, author; Paul, Goodluck, author; Kazwala, Rudovick, author; Mpanduji, Donald, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) population of Ruaha National Park may be in decline. Seasonal drying of the park's water source due to upstream irrigation may have caused loss of dry season habitat, increased pressure on remaining water sources, and possibly increased contact between wildlife and livestock at the park borders. The Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) project and Ruaha National Park are collaborating to investigate the health and population status of the African buffaloes. Between 2011 and 2015, this partnership resulted in testing 30 young and 25 adult African buffaloes for bovine tuberculosis (2011, 2014-15), conducting 4 dry season demographic surveys and herd level parasite screenings (2011, 2013-15), and conducting one aerial population survey in collaboration with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (2013). In 2014-15, 12 adult female buffaloes were collared with satellite GPS collars to learn more about the seasonal movements, habitat preferences, and herd dynamics of Ruaha's buffalo herds. The research has shown that bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis is present in the buffalo population, that the population number appear to be reduced since the last total count in 2004, that the herd composition and seasonal movements may be influenced by rainfall, and the herd level gastrointestinal parasite counts generally are low. The data generated in this study will be used to inform management and conservation of Ruaha National Park's buffaloes.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Surface water availability and agro-pastoral practices shape the human-wildlife interface at the edge of a protected area
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Valls Fox, Hugo, author; Chamaillé-Jammes, Simon, author; de Garine-Wichatitsky, Michel, author; Perrotton, Arthur, author; Courbin, Nicolas, author; Miguel, Eve, author; Guerbois, Chloé, author; Caron, Alexandre, author; Loveridge, Andrew, author; Stapelkamp, Brent, author; Muzamba, Martin, author; Fritz, Hervé, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Spatial and temporal partitioning of key resources promotes species coexistence. On the edge of unfenced protected areas, livestock and wild herbivores share foraging and watering resources. We investigated whether effective resource partitioning was maintained in African savannas as surface water availability declined during the dry season. We quantified avoidance between African elephant (Loxodonta Africana), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and cattle (Bos taurus & indicus) at multiple scales using habitat selection models with GPS relocation data according to seasonal changes in surface water distribution on the eastern fringe of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The range and duration of cattle incursions into the protected area varied seasonally by shifting from consistent selection of open habitats close to water pans during the rainy season to the less predictable selection of areas far away from the now dried up water pans at the end of the dry season. During the rainy and cold dry season, buffalo successfully avoid cattle at large (overlap<3%) and fine spatial scales. By the end of the dry season, buffalo herds, which are restricted to the vicinity of water, still avoid the boundary of the protected area but tolerate higher overlap with cattle (10%) and do not avoid them as strongly at fine scales. Elephant home-ranges overlap extensively with cattle (15-68%) throughout the year but elephant avoid cattle by staying away from the boundary during the day and getting closer to it at night. As the dry season advances, elephant bulls range closer to the boundary especially at night and may even make excursions into the communal land in their search of forage. Synthesis: Wild herbivores strongly avoid livestock and people at the boundary of a protected area as long as their foraging and drinking resources allow. In the advent of a drought, artificial water provisioning and cattle husbandry determine the level of avoidance and may be used to mitigate disease transmission and crop-raiding.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Population genomics of the Cape buffalo subspecies of the Southern African region based on SNP markers
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Smitz, N., author; Hansen, C. Riis, author; Durieu, B., author; Heller, R., author; Vangestel, C., author; Winant, V., author; Van Hooft, P., author; Cornélis, D., author; Chardonnet, P., author; Kraus, R., author; Caron, A., author; de Garine-Wichatitsky, M., author; Michaux, J., author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Recent phylogeographical and population genetic studies on the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) have revealed a complex population structure both at continental and regional scales. These studies were mainly focused on the analysis of the genetic variations of mtDNA amplicons and microsatellites molecular markers. With the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing technologies, large-scale sequencing and identification of large sets of single nucleotide polymorphism from library construction became possible. In the present study, the ‘Genotyping-by-Sequencing' (GBS) technology was applied on 450 samples of African buffaloes spread all over its distribution range (sub-Sahara), including a more intensive sampling in Southern African regions (Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana). The African buffalo being a non-model organism, the use of a closely related species genome (Bos taurus) to map the reads (64bp) and identify nucleotide variations was the most reliable approach. Population structure analyses and demographic parameters estimations were based on 42,643 identified SNPs. Clustering analyses revealed a structuring into 8 populations at the continental scale, with low levels of genetic differentiation, indicative of high historical gene flow. Population fragmentation impact in the Southern African region was evaluated using different indices. The confinement within protected areas, obstructing natural migrations, was shown to have impacted some of these populations. Those results are particularly of conservation concern, as the management of genetically distinct populations can increase species-wide resilience. The resolution of the results obtained with SNPs and microsatellites will be also discussed, based on datasets obtained from the same set of samples.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Genetic variability of Cape buffalo populations in South Africa
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) van der Westhuizen, Lené, author; Neser, Frederick W. C., author; Louw, Roan, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Genetic diversity is essential to ensure viability of species and for them to respond to selection pressures. Climate change is predicted to cause extreme environmental conditions in South Africa with the potential for adverse impacts on livestock and wildlife that may not be as readily mitigated by selection, if genetic variance has been reduced by inbreeding. Estimating the genetic variability on both a herd and breed level include unbiased heterozygosity (Hz), mean number of alleles (MNA), genetic structure and inbreeding. The study describes preliminary results regarding genetic diversity estimates of Cape buffalo populations in South Africa. A total of 2601animals from 27 buffalo populations from different geographical areas of South Africa with the use of14 microsatellite markers. Multiple-locus assignment, performed using the Bayesian clustering algorithm of STRUCTURE, revealed two underlying genotypic groups. Across herds, Hz ranged from 0.48 to 0.73, averaging 0.65; MNA ranged from 3.5 to 8.9, averaging 6.7. Therefore, a reasonably high level of genetic diversity is present with buffalo populations. The average level of inbreeding (FIT) for the populations was estimated to be 1.2%, which also demonstrates low inbreeding. It is important to use these estimates as a conservation tool to ensure that inbreeding does not become a major concern in both private and state wildlife populations.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Evolutionary history of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) at continental scale based on mitochondrial and nuclear molecular markers
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Smitz, Nathalie, author; Heller, Rasmus, author; Van Hooft, Pim, author; Cornélis, Daniel, author; Chardonnet, Philippe, author; Caron, Alexandre, author; de Garine-Wichatitsky, Michel, author; Michaux, Johan, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) exhibits extreme morphological variability at the continental scale. Today, four subspecies are recognized based on morphological characteristics, with three subspecies distributed in the West-Central African region and the last one covering the Southern and the Eastern African regions. Based on the mtDNA D-Loop region and on more than 42,000 SNP genetic markers (Single-Nucleotide-Polymorphism), the present study aimed to investigate the evolutionary history of the species by inferring the pan-African spatial distribution of its genetic diversity. All analyses converged on the existence of two distinct lineages, corresponding to a group encompassing West and Central African populations and a group encompassing East and Southern African populations. The former is currently assigned to two to three subspecies (S. c. nanus, S. c. brachyceros, S. c. aequinoctialis) and the latter to a separate subspecies (S. c. caffer). 42% of the total amount of genetic diversity is explained by the between-lineage component, with one to seventeen female migrants per generation inferred as consistent with the isolation-with-migration model. The divergence time was estimated to have occurred during the late to middle Pleistocene, followed by a population expansion in both lineages, adapting morphologically to colonize new habitats, hence developing the variety of ecophenotypes observed today. At the regional scale, 8 populations distributed within these two lineages could be identified, resulting from more recent fragmentation processes. The two main lineages is a structuration that reflects common evolutionary responses to environmental changes within savanna mammals and can be observed within almost all species with a large distribution pattern as for example the waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), or the roan (Hippotragus equinus).
  • ItemOpen Access
    Effects of divergent migratory strategies on access to resources for Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer)
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Bennitt, Emily, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Populations of large herbivores frequently display divergent migratory strategies, a likely consequence of the trade-off between the costs and benefits of migration. Globally, physical and environmental barriers disrupt migrations, leading to increased residency, which can have detrimental consequences. In the Okavango Delta, Botswana, veterinary cordon fences erected in 1982 may have caused enforced residency in some subpopulations of Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer). We used data from GPS enabled collars fitted to females in 1 resident and 1 migratory subpopulation of buffalo to test the hypotheses that (i) residents have access to less productive forage than migrants, (ii) residents occupy smaller home ranges and live in smaller herds than migrants, (iii) reproductive productivity is lower in resident herds, and (iv) residents have poorer body condition than migrants. Forage characteristics varied between resident and migrant ranges, both between and within seasons. Reproductive productivity and body condition did not differ between subpopulations, but residents occupied smaller home ranges during the rainy season and lived in smaller herds than migrants. The area that residents occupied was located in a more central region of the Okavango Delta than that of migrants; therefore, this area would receive higher levels of nutrients from the annual flood, which would have increased heterogeneity in resident ranges, thereby potentially compensating for effects of disrupted migrations. These results highlight the importance of conserving landscapes with spatially and temporally heterogeneous resources to buffer effects of anthropogenic activities such as artificial barriers on migrations.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Social dynamics in the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Cornélis, Daniel, author; Caron, Alexandre, author; Miguel, Eve, author; Grosbois, Vladimir, author; de Garine, Michel, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    This is a PhD proposal that will be implemented beginning of 2017. The project aims at understanding the social organisation of the African buffalo and its eco-epidemiological implications. Approaches from several scientific disciplines will be used to build a comprehensive study: the patterns of association between individuals will be studied using concepts and tools from behavioral and movement ecology: it will be based on a large GPS-tracking database and will relate inter-individual interactions to environmental factors (e.g. distribution of key resources, human disturbances, predation risk); the epidemiological processes and the influence of association patterns on pathogens transmission will be studied using a generic modelling approach which could be parameterized for various diseases. Here, we will present the preliminary research questions addressed by this project.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Primary production drives ecophysiological cascades in African buffalo
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Combrink, Henri, author; Beechler, Brianna, author; Azenwa, Vanessa, author; Jolles, Anna, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    In savannah ecosystems, annual photosynthetic cycles are conspicuous from leaf to landscape level, introducing substantial temporal variability in the quality and quantity of forage plants. As such, the life histories and health of herbivores should be tightly coupled to seasonal phenological patterns; and occurrence patterns of infectious diseases may be driven by the resulting fluctuations in animal immune status. However, few longitudinal datasets including measures of forage quality, along with physiological, immunological and disease outcomes for ungulate consumers have yet been available to test this idea. In this work we used a novel dietary metric, faecal chlorophyll, to show that African buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) are highly sensitive to variation in primary production. We demonstrate that faecal chlorophyll correlates tightly with faecal nitrogen, which is often used to evaluate nutritional condition in ungulates; however, faecal chlorophyll assays are far more economical to run. We employ time lagged cross-correlation functions to explore its relationship with various environmental, physiological and immunological parameters and their outcomes for buffalo physiological condition and susceptibility to disease. Our results suggest that primary production is an overwhelming explanatory variable driving broad population level patterns of physiological condition, susceptibility to parasites, disease prevalence and the synergistic outcomes of these on buffalo health. Such strong links to environmental variability have cascading implications for disease dynamics and how we model the spread and maintenance of diseases in ungulate populations. We discuss the implications of this work for evaluating the vulnerability of buffalo to changes in climate, land use or management.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Elands under intensive husbandry: fattening and meat quality in comparison to cattle
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Kotrba, Radim, author; Kolbábek, Petr, author; Bureš, Daniel, author; Bartoň, Luděk, author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Domestication attempts to breed elands as cattle have been documented since the first half of last century. Based on mild temperament and similarities to cattle, elands were recommended for intensive husbandry. Our aim was to investigate fattening performance, physical, chemical and sensory characteristics of elands (Taurotragus oryx) bulls and Fleckvieh (Bos taurus, a Simmental type dual-purpose breed) bulls. Both species were finished at comparable slaughter weight under controlled conditions of feeding (mixed diets based on maize, Lucerne silages and cereal straw) and management in the Czech Republic. Elands were slaughtered at a live weight of 414.2 kg (s.d. 47.5 kg) and age at slaughter 1112 days (s.d. 138 days) and cattle at average live weight of 573.0 kg (s.d. 17.0 kg) and an average slaughter age 458 days (s.d. 39 days). Musculus longissimus lumborum from eland was darker and less yellow in colour, with a higher pH and lower contents of intramuscular fat and total collagen, compared to cattle. Contents (mg/100 g muscle tissue) and proportions (g/100 g of FA determined) of SFA and MUFA were higher in cattle. Although the proportion of total PUFA was higher in eland, contents of PUFA were similar between species. Grilled beef steaks (until an internal temperature of 70°C was reached) were consistently scored higher for sensory texture characteristics, juiciness, flavour, and overall acceptance. We concluded that bulls of eland provided low-fat meat with a beneficial fatty acid composition from a human nutrition perspective, but with lower sensory scores, compared to bull beef. It can be influenced also by higher slaughter age of elands or by relatively high final internal temperature after grilling. Therefore, eland production potential under intensive husbandry can be reasonable recently only when customers will accept higher price of eland meat or in longer perspective will be possible to improve fattening performance by improvement of diet and selection of breeding stock for higher weight gain.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Escherichia coli population structure and antibiotic resistance at a buffalo/cattle interface in southern Africa
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Mercat, M., author; Clermont, O., author; Massot, M., author; Ruppe, E., author; de Garine-Wichatitsky, M., author; Miguel, E, author; Valls Fox, H., author; Cornelis, D., author; Andremont, A., author; Denamur, E., author; Caron, A., author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    Human/livestock/wildlife interfaces create favorable conditions for microorganisms spill over between hosts. In landscapes where human expansion encroaches into natural ecosystems, the resulting epidemics are a major cause of human/wildlife conflicts that challenge the sustainable coexistence between Mankind and Nature. Escherichia coli is a well-known bacteria, ubiquitous and harboring antibiotic resistance. It provides a good model to understand the diffusion of antibiotic resistance between hosts and the environment. This is also a good candidate to explore the mechanisms of microorganism transmission between hosts and could be used to track pathogen transmission. We used phenotypic and molecular characterization techniques to describe antibiotic resistance and the diversity of E.coli populations found in sympatric African buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) and cattle populations at the Hwange National Park interface, Zimbabwe. Although the structure of E. coli populations was similar between cattle and buffalo populations, we found a gradient of antibiotic resistance, highest in cattle, intermediate in buffalo that were in contact with cattle, and lowest in isolated buffalo. The types and molecular characterization of antibiotic resistance further confirm the observed gradient and suggest that antibiotic resistance is spreading from human to animal populations. We demonstrate that there is a risk of antibiotic resistance diffusion between wildlife, livestock and human populations, with unknown consequences on the health of host populations. These results also confirm that E. coli could be used as a tool to identify transmission pathways in multi-host systems, in an attempt to characterize pathogen spread and risks of emergence.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Analyzing herbivore movements in relation to resource availability in the Savuti-Mababe-Linyanti Ecosystem (SMLE) in northern Botswana
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2016-09) Sianga, K., author; Fynn, R., author; Bonyongo, M. C., author; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher
    The size and stability of large herbivore populations is dependent upon the ability to adapt to strong inter-annual and inter-seasonal variation in forage quantity and quality, while minimizing the risk of predation. Thus, understanding seasonal variations in habitat suitability in relation to a species' requirements at different stages in its reproductional cycle is essential to develop strategies for large, trans-national conservation areas and to mitigate conflicts between conservation and human land use. The Savuti-Mababe-Linyanti region has been selected as an area to study seasonal resource utilization by buffalo. GPS collars were deployed to3 buffalo herds between 2011 and 2013 and allowed to track animal movements with ~ 6occurrence points per day. Based on these, an interpretation of field- and laboratory analysis of the movement of buffalo in relation to forage quality and quantity was conducted. Buffalo, moved into thicker woodland habitats where taller leafy grasses were common during the wet season which varied in forage quality and quantity. Buffalo herds used woodlands where visibility was low probably because they can defend themselves against their predators. Both species relied on ephemeral water in the pans during the wet season. When pans dried out during the dry season, buffalo moved to their dry season ranges around permanent water. During the early dry season, the buffalo used a range of woodland habitats and floodplain grasslands around the Selinda Spillway, Linyanti Swamps and Savuti Marsh.