Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pathways for positive cattle-wildlife interactions in semiarid rangelands

item Augustine, David
item Young, Truman
item Veblen, Kari
item Goheen, Jacob
item Riginos, Corinna

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/6/2009
Publication Date: 6/20/2011
Citation: Augustine, D.J., Young, T.P., Veblen, K.E., Goheen, J.R., Riginos, C. 2011. Pathways for positive cattle-wildlife interactions in semiarid rangelands. In: N.J. Georgiadis (ed.), Conserving wildlife in African landscapes Kenya's Ewaso Ecosytem, Number 632. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. p.72.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Livestock-wildlife interactions in rangelands are often viewed in terms of competition, but livestock and native ungulates can also induce long-term modifications in rangelands that benefit one another. Here, we synthesize research on rangeland in central Laikipia focusing on two types of positive cattle – wildlife interactions. The first occurs via redistribution of soil nutrients, which is a consequence of the use of bomas (temporary corrals) to manage cattle. Our studies on two dissimilar soil types show that rotational boma management creates hectare-scale patches in the landscape that are enriched in soil and plant nutrients, and that persist for decades to centuries. In rangelands underlain by the predominant soils in Laikipia, forage phosphorous content is low relative to ungulate demands during peak lactation, such that nutrient-rich boma sites (glades) provide a key wet-season forage resource. Our studies further show that a wide range of native ungulates selectively use glades relative to surrounding nutrient-poor habitats. Impala (Aepyceros melampus) in particular show intensive use of glades, and are rare in portions of the landscape lacking glades. A second important pathway for cattle-wildlife interaction occurs through the influence of native browsing ungulates on woody vegetation. Shrub and tree cover has increased in Laikipia over the past century, followed by increases in native browsers in recent decades on ranches where wildlife are allowed to coexist with cattle. Our exclosure experiments in central Laikipia show native browsers suppress shrub encroachment on both dominant soil types. However, browser effects are three to seven times stronger on sandy soils, where dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) and elephants (Loxodonta africana) are both abundant, compared to clay soils where only elephants are the dominant browser. In the clay soils, native browsers still exert a significant influence on dynamics of the dominant tree, Acacia drepanolobium, and suppress encroachment by subdominant shrub species. Browser effects on woody vegetation likely enhance forage production for cattle, and maintain open habitats favored by native grazers for predator avoidance. Taken together, our studies indicate that boma rotation and browser control of shrub encroachment are key interaction pathways that promote cattle-wildlife coexistence in the Ewaso Ecosystem.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page