, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 248-273

Feeding ecology of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) in campo animal reserve, Cameroon

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Abstract

A field study on the ecology of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) was carried out for 28 months in Cameroon. Fresh food remnants and large quantities of fresh feces were collected by following the groups. Analyses of these products indicated that fruit (including seeds), monocotyledonous plant leaves and insects (especially ants and termites), were frequently eaten. Mandrills mostly ate the plant and animal foods in the lower forest stratum and on the ground. Fallen seeds and monocotyledonous plant leaves were eaten more frequently in the minor fruiting season than in the major fruiting season presumably to compensate for the shortage of fresh fruit during the former. Daily travel distances were shorter during the minor fruiting season than during the major fruiting season, because in the minor fruiting season mandrills forage for small food items, such as the new leaves and piths of monocotyledons and fallen seeds which are sparsely distributed on the ground, while in the major fruiting season they search for widely distributed food such as fruit. The daily pattern of group movement and a food intake experiment suggest that mandrills move and feed continuously throughout the day. Use of fallen seeds and monocotyledonous plant leaves appears to enable mandrills to maintain a terrestrial life in the tropical rain forest. The feeding and ranging characteristics of mandrills are basically similar to those of other baboon species in open land, though their environments differ extremely.