The use of teak (Tectona grandis) plantations by large mammals in the Kilombero Valley, southern Tanzania

  • Published source details Bonnington C., Weaver D. & Fanning E. (2009) The use of teak (Tectona grandis) plantations by large mammals in the Kilombero Valley, southern Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology, 47, 138-145.



The Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC) has a policy of staggering their teak planting and therefore creating a mosaic of differently aged teak patches scattered within a (semi-) natural landscape, this management is in part, designed to benefit native wildlife. This study investigated the habitat use of large mammal species through a spectrum of teak stand ages from young (0-2 years old) to old (12> years old) to assess the conservation value of all teak stands.



Fifteen line transects were surveyed in July-September 2005 and repeated in December-February 2005-06 in teak stands of differing age (0-2, 4-6, 8-10 and 12> years old). Spoor was recorded during transects to obtain a mean abundance score for each mammal species. For the purpose of analysis, species were assigned to a group based on their feeding ecology (e.g. ‘grazers’ included eland Taurotragus oryx, ‘bulk feeders’ included African elephant Loxodonta africana, ‘browsers’ included bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus and ‘rooters/ foragers’ included African warthog Phacochoerus africanus and baboon Papio spp.). Vegetation characteristics were recorded along transects, pooled for each teak age category and related to mammal abundance.



As the teak matured the spoor transects revealed that mammal species number decreased. Bulk feeders and grazers were significantly more active in the younger teak plantations (0-2 and 4-6 years old). Some species such as elephant and eland were not recorded in teak plantations > 6 years old. A limited number of species, including bushbuck, used teak plantations of differing ages to a similar degree and were therefore not influenced by teak stand age. Young teak plantations characterised by slender teak trees, abundant grass layer and substantial bare ground were used by all mammal species recorded in our study. Analysis confirmed that teak plantation characteristics (particularly grass layer) influenced mammal use with younger stands having increased foraging potential attracting a greater number of species. Young teak stands provide important habitat for large mammals particularly near less favourable mature teak stands. The teak management policy used by KVTC provides large mammals with important habitat and allows continuation of mammal movements in this region of southern Tanzania.
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