Wildlife Ranching Magazine

Grass-eating MEGA HERBIVORES

In the previous article, the reader was introduced to the different digestive classes or categories that exist for African ungulates larger than a blue duiker. It discussed how the different classes differ with regard to what forage they select and what mechanisms they have to degrade and digest it. The article also stressed the importance of the symbiotic/mutualistic relationship that exists between the host animal and the population of gut flora (microbes) that assist the animal in converting the selected forage into essential nutrients the animals absorb in the different parts of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).

BACKGROUND

To recap, herbivores are animals that select and eat the most palatable foliage available as a food source.

Their mouthparts are adapted to select, grind and/or rasp selected plant matter (grass and leaves from shrubs, small stems and tree bark) into smaller particles. These smaller particles are swallowed with copious amounts of saliva for further degradation and digestion in the gut, where the fibrous plant matter gets converted to volatile fatty acids (energy) and other essential nutrients

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