Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01089.x
The impact of elephants on the woody plant community through debarking was investigated in Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves, Kenya. Acacia elatior Brenan, the most abundant tree species inthe riverine zone, accounted for 68%(n = 1375) of woody plants. A. tortilis (Forsskal) Hayne dominated plots away from the river. Debarking incidences were significantly higher for A. elatior than for other species indicating selective utilization. The riverine zone by virtue of having more trees of the preferred species, A. elatior, had the highest debarking incidences. Presence of very few saplings along the river is attributed to both elephant trampling and herb ivory by other species. An estimated 38.5% and 22.5% of the riverine A. elatior and A. tortilis trees respectively, were bound to die within the next 4–5 years because of severe debarking, ‡75% of bark circumference.