Wildlife Ranching Magazine


“The smaller the animal the greater the % of body mass the intake will be.”

Dr Ellen Dierenfeld is a comparative animal nutritionist with more than 30 years’ experience with a variety of species. She’s led Wildlife Nutrition Departments for the Wildlife Conservation Society (based at the Bronx Zoo) and St. Louis Zoo, oversaw Africa R&D collaborations for Novus International and has field experience on six continents. Dr Ellen is currently an independent consultant in diet evaluation, product development and applied research for multiple zoos, wildlife facilities, and pet and livestock species globally.

In the series, the following have been discussed:

Article 1 – the different digestive classes or categories that exist for African ungulates larger than a blue duiker;

Article 2 – two bulk grazing herbivores, namely the hippopotamus and the white rhinoceros;

Article 3 – browsing and intermediate mega herbivores, namely the black rhinoceros and the African savannah elephant;

Article 4 – browsing and grazing large ruminants, namely the giraffe and the African savannah buffalo;

Article 5 – a medium-sized grazing ruminant, namely the white bearded wildebeest within its ecosystem.


To recap, herbivores are animals that select palatable plant parts as a food source. They have mouthparts adapted to select, grind and/or rasp plant matter (grass and leaves from shrubs, small stems and tree bark) into smaller particles. These smaller particles are converted into volatile fatty acids (VFA), which provide their energy supply, and other essential nutrients by fermentation and microbial action

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