We used more than 10 years of data on buffalo herds in a Geographic Information System (GIS) of Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) to examine ranging behavior and habitat selection at multiple temporal and geographic scales. We compared 3 methods of empirical home range estimation: minimum convex polygons (MCP); a fixed-kernel method; and a new local nearest-neighbor convex-hull construction method (LoCoH). For 3 herds over 5 years (1995–2000), the southern herd (SH) had the largest range, the focal study herd (FH) had the intermediate range, and the northern herd (NH) had the smallest range. The LoCoH method best-described the ranges because it accommodated user knowledge of known physical barriers, such as fences, whereas the MCP and kernel methods overestimated ranges. Short-term ranges of the FH over 9 years reveal that buffalo travel farther and range wider in the dry season than the wet. Habitat selection analyses on broad vegetation categories showed preference for Acacia shrub veld and Combretum-dominated woodlands. We found no significant selection of habitat at a fine geographic and temporal interval using the remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), but the index was correlated to ranging behavior at a larger geographic scale. We found that buffalo selected areas within 1 km of water sources, and an isopleth analysis using the new LoCoH method showed preference for riverine areas in both seasons. This suggests that buffalo preferentially select for areas near water, but they may range farther in the dry season for higher-quality food. As KPNR has a higher density of water than the neighboring Kruger National Park (KNP), this study provides a comparison of buffalo response to water availability in a smaller reserve and important information to managing the buffalo population as part of the larger Greater Kruger Management Area (GKMA).
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