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Bauer D.,University of Hohenheim | Schiess-Meier M.,Leopard Ecology and Conservation | Schiess-Meier M.,University of Zurich | Mills D.R.,Leopard Ecology and Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2014

In many African countries, large carnivores such as lions (Panthera leo (L., 1758)) are under serious threat through conflict with people, declining prey abundance, and exposure to disease. Spoor and prey count surveys were used to determine temporal and spatial variation in lion density in Khutse Game Reserve (KGR), Botswana, and the adjacent communal grazing area. Estimated lion density in KGR for the period September 2008 - June 2010 was 41% lower than for the period June 2007 - August 2008 (1.02 vs. 1.72 lions/100 km2). Prior to this population crash in mid-2008, estimated lion density in the communal grazing area (1.21 lions/100 km2) was 30% lower than inside KGR. The relative abundance of the three most abundant, preferred prey species of lions occurring in KGR decreased from 2001 to 2008 by 50%-79%. Based on two prey biomass estimates, the lion population in KGR was below the potential carrying capacity of the habitat after the crash in mid-2008. These results suggest that there could be a human-caused population sink around KGR, which might be strong enough to threaten the long-term survival of lions in the area; particularly if this edge effect is intensified by prey depletion and disease outbreaks, which might have caused the sudden decline in the lion population. Source


Kerth G.,University of Greifswald | Kerth G.,University of Zurich | Gusset M.,Leopard Ecology and Conservation | Gusset M.,University of Oxford | And 3 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2013

Lethal control of stock-raiding predators is generally assumed to have fewer consequences for the species' population dynamics if it involves males only. However, very little data are available that assess whether shot "problem" animals indeed are essentially males. In this study, we used two independent genetic methods (four X-chromosomal polymorphic microsatellite loci and the sex-specific ZFXY marker) validated against known-sex samples to determine, from skin samples collected over a 6-year period, the sex of 59 leopards (Panthera pardus) shot by farmers in Botswana. We found that out of 53 leopards that could be sexed genetically, 21 were females (39.6 %); males were thus not significantly more often shot than females. Comparing the genetically determined sex of shot leopards to that reported by farmers showed that 58.3 % were mistaken for the opposite sex. Our genetic study revealed that more females than presumed are hunted in response to alleged livestock predation. With females frequently misidentified as males, the current practice of shooting "problem" animals is likely to negatively affect the population dynamics of leopards. These genetic data may be used to guide the development of a revised management policy for large-carnivore hunting. Importantly, models of sustainable harvest need to include female off-take as a parameter. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source


Weilenmann M.,University of Zurich | Gusset M.,Leopard Ecology and Conservation | Gusset M.,University of Oxford | Mills D.R.,Leopard Ecology and Conservation | Schiess-Meier M.,University of Zurich
Wildlife Research | Year: 2010

Context. Translocation as a non-lethal management tool to eliminate individual 'problem' animals is commonly used but rarely evaluated. Aim. We sought to evaluate whether translocating stock-raiding leopards (Panthera pardus) into a protected area with resident conspecifics in Botswana is effective in dealing with 'problem' carnivores. Methods. We assessed release-site fidelity, ranging behaviour, individual survival and reduction of conflict after translocation of four translocated leopards in relation to four resident conspecifics, which were tracked from 24 days up to 4 years. Key results. None of the translocated leopards showed release-site fidelity; they either returned to the trap site or showed extensive roaming behaviour after release. Three of the four translocated leopards reportedly resumed stock-raiding and were shot when ranging outside of protected areas, which apparently was a consequence of being released into an area already occupied by territorial conspecifics. On the basis of satellite telemetry, the linear movement distance of one translocated leopard (1249km) and the range size of three resident female leopards (513±124 km2) are the largest on record. Conclusions. From comparing the survival and ranging behaviour of translocated leopards with that of resident conspecifics, we conclude that translocation was not an effective management tool for dealing with stock-raiding leopards in our study. Implications. Rather than translocating 'problem' carnivores, efforts should focus on reducing the potential for problems to develop, most importantly on improving livestock-husbandry practices. © CSIRO 2010. Source

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