Identification and characterization of plant communities exploited by the elephant Loxodonta africana in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in the northwest of the Republic of Benin [Indentification et caractérisation des formations végétales exploitées par l’éléphant Loxodonta africana dans la Réserve de Biosphère de la Pendjari au Nord-Ouest de la République du Bénin]
Aristide T.C.,Projet W Arly Pendjari |
Aristide T.C.,Laboratoire Decologie Appliquee Fsa Uac |
Eric K.,Laboratoire Decologie Appliquee Fsa Uac |
Apolinaire M.G.,Institute National des Recherches Agricoles du Benin |
And 2 more authors.
Pachyderm | Year: 2012
The plant communities of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve (PBR) are continuously consumed by the elephant population. These plant communities are an important source of food for wildlife in general and for elephants in particular, and they are also a source of bushmeat and other non-woody forest products for the neighbouring populations. Little scientific data exist on the relationship between the plant species that elephants eat and elephants in the PBR. The objectives of the study were to: identify the different zones elephants use, characterize the different plant communities elephants consume, and evaluate elephant damage on the plant communities. The Braun-Blanquet method was used for the phytosociological survey. Matrices of data collected from the survey were processed using STATISTICA software. The dendrogram was obtained using STATISTICA software by Ward’s method using Euclidian distances to define plant species. The earth’s surface, the vertical and horizontal structures, were the dendrometric parameters calculated. All data were subjected to the Monte Carlo test in order to analyse the correlations between environmental factors and the different phytocenoses elephants use to evaluate their impact on plant communities. The results showed that Porga and Arly zones had high concentrations of elephants while Batia and Konkombri had low concentrations. Out of 61 plants surveyed x 183 species in all the zones identified, the dendrogram identified five groups of plants differentiated according to typical characteristics of plant communities, the level of degradation caused by elephants and the area of the zones containing these groups of plants. The vertical structure observed corresponded mainly with a Gaussian bell-shaped distribution. The horizontal structure was an inverted J and resulted from a natural formation. As regards the type of damage caused by elephants, the presence of felled trees was strongly correlated with areas of high concentration of elephants. Overall, the dendrometric characterization carried out underlines the fact that the vegetation in the PBR is still in a good state of conservation despite the number of wild animals in this West African sub-region. © 2012, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.