Field studies were made of tritiated water turnover, drinking water and dietary water intake throughout the year, in 212 animals of the following species: African buffalo, dromedary camel, zebu cow, eland, small East African goat, fringe-eared oryx, and Dorper sheep.
There were significant differences (P< 0·005) in the water drunk and water turnover between species and between seasons. Furthermore the species (or season) differences were also significantly different (P< 0·005) for each season (or species). The lowest turnover rates were found in oryx, then camel, sheep, goat, eland, cow and buffalo, when expressed in ml/l0·82/day, which was the appropriate metabolic unit for these species.
The restraints imposed by traditional African animal husbandry have drastically reduced the natural ability of eland to conserve body water but had much less effect on buffalo and oryx. The reason appears to be that eland is behaviourally adapted to a semi-arid environment, whereas a species like oryx is more physiologically adapted.