Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 23 February

roelblogEven though we had given up on them, the rains have arrived (better late than never). So finally the trees are starting to grow a more vibrant green and are flowering, the grasses are regenerating and the herbivores do not have to travel long distances between food and water-sources anymore. The large carnivores however will have to work just a bit harder for their meals as they cannot lie around the sparse water sources anymore and wait for their prey to come to them.

The weird thing is the amount of dead and dying hippos that are being found all over the place just after the so-called life giving rain. This is a result of what is called the Re-feeding Syndrome. This basically means that in times of prolonged low calorie intake the body changes the way it functions and starts utilizing fatty acids and amino acids as fuel in place of carbohydrates. This is actually just a small part of what happens but I do not want to go into the full medical details of it all as that is way too complex. When food becomes available again and the hippos can feed on nutritious grasses the changes in the internal workings of the body can be detrimental to the animal and in the worse case lead to death due to stresses on the cardio-vascular system. So they over-eat after the dry season and that can be very detrimental to the weakest individuals in the population, with this season having a prolonged dry season the number of stressed individuals was very high and so the amount of carcasses we find is quite large.

But for the most part these are the good times for the herbivores and they are quickly replenishing their fat-reserves in time for the mating seasons that are just around the corner. We can already see the changes in their behaviour as the males are becoming more and more territorial and aggressive towards other males. This is easiest to see in the herds of Impala where almost any disturbance will cause the males to start displaying and where the bachelor herds are not allowed to intermingle with the females anymore.

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2 Responses to Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 23 February

  1. John Gray says:

    Thanks for your latest blog. How interesting, I had never heard of Re-feeding Syndrome! Must be a really interesting time to be in the Selous – enjoy! Best wishes, John

    • Roel says:

      Hi John, Thank you very much. Even though the bush is always interesting, these transitional times, when going from dry to wet, just have something extra. Not just the joy of seeing life explode around you, but also the sad parts.

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