The seasonal diet, feeding patterns, feeding selection and habitat selectivity of the aardvark were determined during summer and winter at Tussen die Riviere Nature Reserve in the southern Free State. Pitfall trapping, dig sampling and quadrat sampling were used to determine the resource base of three habitats in the summer and winter of 1998. A total of 44 ant species of 5 sub families and 17 genera, and two termite species of two sub families were recorded. Pitfall trapping was the most successful technique, followed by quadrat sampling (51.1%) and finally, dig sampling (48.8%). Abundance and diversity was higher during summer than winter. Monomorium albopilosum was the most abundant species in all habitats in winter, whilst Anoplolepis custodiens was the most abundant in summer. The grassland habitat yielded the highest abundance and diversity, followed by the steep slope and riverine areas. Seasonal diet and foraging patterns were determined through faecal analysis and observation of four habituated aardvarks. The Formicidae were more important than the Isoptera in both seasons. The feeding of the aardvark was highly selective, only 28.8% of the available species having been utilised. Prey selection was found to be most highly correlated with prey size, prey abundance, prey mobility, and prey calorific value. Aardvarks were highly selective in their habitat utilisation. The vast majority of feeds were made in the grassland areas where prey abundance was greatest, compared to negligible numbers of prey in the rocky steep slopes and no prey in the riverine areas due to periodic flooding.
Dissertation (MSc (Veterinary Tropical Diseases)--University of Pretoria, 1999.