The importance of post-fire regrowth for sable antelope in a Southern African savanna
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Francesca Parrini; Norman Owen-Smith
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • fire
  • fire management
  • foraging behavior
  • grassland
  • grazing
  • Hippotragus niger
  • pyric herbivory
  • sable antelope
  • South Africa
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 12, 2015
FRAMES Record Number: 18025


Burning is commonly used in savannas to stimulate grass regrowth for grazing ungulates. We recorded the relative use of burns occurring at different stages in the seasonal cycle, as well as in different regions of the landscape by two herds of sable. We also recorded behavioural measures of foraging efficiency and faecal nutrient contents as an indication of nutrient gains. Sable consistently concentrated their grazing on burned areas provided there was sufficient green regrowth during the dry season. In these circumstances they grazed for longer per feeding station, showed a slower step rate while foraging, and shorter between-patch moves, and a higher probability of encountering acceptable food per step taken while foraging than on unburnt areas. In the year when only a burn with insufficient regrowth was available, sable continued to forage in the area that had been burned during the previous year. Faecal crude protein was substantially higher at the end of the dry season in the year when burned areas were utilized. Accordingly early dry season fires can be important in helping sable bridge the nutritional limitations posed by the dry season, provided sufficient soil moisture remains to promote adequate grass regrowth.

Online Link(s):
Parrini, Francesca; Owen-Smith, Norman. 2009. The importance of post-fire regrowth for sable antelope in a Southern African savanna. African Journal of Ecology 48(2):526-534.