Seasonal distributions and interactions of cattle and wild ungulates in Maasailand, Tanzania

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In Tanzania, both wildlife and livestock are recognized as resources of economic potential. Where they overlap, land use conflicts have arisen. This study was undertaken to determine aspects and areas of competition between cattle and wild ungulates in Maasailand, east of Tarangire Park. Subsistence pastoralism was the main form of land use and was the object of livestock development efforts. The area also was the wet season dispersal area for Tarangire ungulates and harbored a smaller number of resident wildlife.

Comparison of habitats of similar potential but different management history indicated that much of the cattle area was in suboptimal condition. This was attributable partly to the restricted distribution of cattle due to tsetse infestation. Maasai movement patterns were discussed in relation to factors which contributed to habitat deterioration. It was concluded that changes in traditional attitudes towards livestock husbandry were necessary for full realization of land use objectives.

Based on dry season counts at water sources it was postulated that cattle, because of greater numbers and a restricted distribution due to their owners’ directive influence, greater disease susceptibility and water constraints, outcompeted wild grazers during this time of resource scarcity. Wet season ungulate distributions were determined by counts along driven transects. It was concluded that wildebeest and zebra, in particular, competed indirectly with cattle for food through their use of the cattle belt where forage was limited in the dry season. Cattle appeared to compete directly with grazing ungulates preferring tall grass habitats (kongoni, oryx), while facilitating use of the herb layer by species preferring short grasses (wildebeest, Grant’s gazelle).