Stocking rates and carrying capacities for ungulates on african rangelands

Mentis, M.T.

South African Journal of Wildlife Research 7(2): 89-98


Accession: 006484431

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The principles in calculating and settling stocking rates for African ungulates are considered. Stocking rates should be calculated using estimated energy consumption, not biomass. The capacity of rangelands to support ungulates is high for large sized and largely grazing species, and low for small sized and largely browsing species. The former type of animal appears an inefficient converter per unit mass of intake, but efficient per unit mass of primary production; the opposite holds for the latter type of animal. The methods agriculturists use to calculate an economically optimal stocking rate are applicable to wild ungulate production systems, and avoid the difficulties inherent in the classical ecological methods involving the intrinsic rate of natural increase, and ecological efficiency ratios. The agriculturalists' method may be extended to determine an economically optimal proportional animal species composition. Previous protagonists of game ranching have overemphasized the wild vs. domestic animals, under-emphasized the '1- or 2-species community' vs. 'complete community', paid insufficient attention to mixing compatible domestic and wild ungulates to create a complete community, and have misunderstood or ignored the effects of the properties of different ungulates, and of the system of management on animal production and range condition.