Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 49–53 | Cite as

Geochemistry of mineral licks at Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa

  • J. D. Stephenson
  • A. Mills
  • J. J. Eksteen
  • A. V. Milewski
  • J. G. Myburgh
Original Paper


Although numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain geophagy, the primary driver of this behaviour remains elusive. Supplementation of scarce nutrients is one commonly cited explanation. We examined the element concentration of three licks relative to adjacent topsoils to infer the possible reasons for geophagy at Loskop Dam Nature Reserve. Lick samples had greater concentrations of B, Co, Zn, Se, Mo and Mn (Loskop Main Lick); Cu (Klopperskloof Lick); and Na (Klopperskloof Lick and Rhenosterhoek Lick) than those of adjacent topsoil. We suggest that supplementation with all or some of these nutrients is a likely driver of geophagy in this fenced reserve, with different licks providing herbivores with different suites of nutrients.


Geophagy Nutrient supplementation Nutrition Selenium Sodium 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Stephenson
    • 1
  • A. Mills
    • 2
  • J. J. Eksteen
    • 3
  • A. V. Milewski
    • 4
  • J. G. Myburgh
    • 5
  1. 1.C4 EcoSolutionsTokaiSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  3. 3.Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks AgencyNelspruitSouth Africa
  4. 4.Shenton ParkAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of PretoriaOnderstepoortSouth Africa

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