Concern about the habitat requirements of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) has increased due to population declines shown in some protected areas. Our study was prompted by the lack of initial increase by the sable antelope introduced into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in North West Province, South Africa; 67 animals released between 1979 and 1983 had only grown to approximately 70 animals by 1988. We recorded forage selection by sable antelope within the context of the landscape units favoured in different seasons. Chrysopogon serrulatus, Panicum maximum, Heteropogon contortus, and Themeda triandra contributed most to the diet of sable antelope. Faecal crude protein content did not drop below 6.6% of dry matter during the dry season, with use of burnt grassland by sable contributing to an elevation in faecal protein levels at the beginning of the wet season. The sable population had increased to 127 animals by 1991, suggesting that the earlier lack of population growth had been due to below-average rainfall, lack of burns providing green regrowth during the dry season, or a delay in learning to exploit available forage resources efficiently.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1