We investigated how plains zebras moved across a large natural landscape by analysing the movement paths of nine zebra mares foraging out from spatially confined waterholes during the dry season in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana. Since it was essential to investigate directed movement over a range of spatial scales to determine the correct movement behaviour and strategy, we used Nams’s scaling test for oriented movement. Zebras followed directed movement paths in the lower to medium spatial scales ((10 m-3.7 km) and above their visual, and possibly olfactory, range. The spatial scale of directed movement suggests that zebras had a well-defined spatial awareness and cognitive ability. Seven zebras used directed movement paths, but the remaining two followed paths not significantly different to a correlated random walk (CRW). At large spatial scales (>3 km) no distinct movement pattern could be identified and paths could not be distinguished from a CRW. Foraging strategy affected the extent of directed movement: zebras with a confined dispersion of grazing patches around the central place directed their movements over a longer distance. Zebras may extend the distance at which they can direct their movement after improving their knowledge of the local environment.
|Translated title of the contribution||Directed movement and orientation across a large natural landscape by zebras, Equus burchelli antiquorum|
|Pages (from-to)||277 - 285|
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2008|