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Artificial waterhole type selection data for elephant and rhino

Cite this dataset

Barrett, Alan (2022). Artificial waterhole type selection data for elephant and rhino [Dataset]. Dryad.


Artificial water provisioning occurs in southern African nature reserves, with different game species preferring specific waterhole types. Movement patterns and behaviour of elephant and rhino are associated with water availability. These mega-herbivores affect the environment and species they encounter, especially at waterholes which are focal points for congregation and interaction. Understanding artificial waterhole type preferences is important, particularly during times of water shortage, allowing managers to manipulate numbers and types of waterholes. This study investigates elephant and rhino use of waterholes in the Olifants West Nature Reserve, South Africa. Waterhole types in the study area are earth dams, concrete pans, reservoirs and troughs. Visitation frequency, proportion of visits, time visited, and variables affecting frequency of visits were investigated using camera traps. Findings indicated that elephants preferred reservoirs, black rhino preferred earth dams, and white rhino preferred troughs. Different social groupings had distinct preferences for different waterhole types. Elephant breeding herds preferred reservoirs, while bachelor groups avoided them and preferred earth dams. Black and white rhino bachelor groups preferred troughs, and cows and bull-and-cow groups preferred earth dams. Data from this study will facilitate implementation of efficient conservation plans for existing areas containing the study species, and for potential release sites.  

artificial waterhole use


Data was collected in the field using camera traps and visual observations. Data was captured into MS Excel and analysed using Binomial tests and a series of Poisson GLM's. Graphs and tables were also produced from the data.   

Usage notes

MS Excel


Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit