Indexed on: 27 Jul '06Published on: 27 Jul '06Published in: Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
In contrast to the grazing white (C. simum) and Indian (R. unicornis) rhinoceros, the black rhinoceros (D. bicornis) is an exclusive browser. Due to the particular fermentation characteristics of browse, one would expect browsers to display both shorter ingesta retention times and lower digestion coefficients on comparable diets than grazers. In order to generate a database to test this hypothesis, we performed digestibility studies in eight black rhinoceroses (D. bicornis) from three zoological institutions, using total faecal collection for the quantification of faecal output. One to three regularly fed zoo rations of roughage, concentrates and varying proportions of browse material were used per animal. Additional data was taken from three hitherto unpublished studies as well as several published sources. When compared with horses on similar rations, black rhinoceroses achieved lower digestion coefficients for organic matter and CF. In general, an increase in dietary CF content led to a steeper decrease in organic matter and GE digestibility in black rhinoceroses than in horses. When comparing available data for rhinoceroses, browsing species showed a steeper decrease in organic matter digestibility than grazing species with increasing dietary cell wall content. Endogenous losses as determined by linear regression analysis were within the range reported for horses and Indian rhinoceroses. The results suggest that the horse is not a useful model animal for evaluating diets for black rhinoceroses energetically. In general, diets fed to captive black rhinoceroses seem to include higher proportions of concentrates than diets for other rhinoceros species, and an increase in browse or roughage would reduce digestion coefficients to levels observed in animals fed natural forage.