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Thabazimbi, South Africa

Yarnell R.W.,Nottingham Trent University | Phipps W.L.,Nottingham Trent University | Dell S.,South Tourism | MacTavish L.M.,Mankwe Wildlife Reserve | Scott D.M.,University of Brighton
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2015

Vulture restaurants are used worldwide as a conservation tool to provide threatened vultures with a source of supplementary carrion free from anthropogenic contaminants such as poisons and veterinary drugs. While the impacts of supplementary feeding sites on ecosystem and scavenging community dynamics have been investigated in Europe, no information is currently available for southern Africa. This study presents evidence that providing supplementary carrion for vultures stimulated an increase in local abundance of two species of mammalian carnivores, the brown hyaena (Hyaena brunnea) and the black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas). These findings require that the wider impacts of providing supplementary carrion for conserving threatened species are fully investigated. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Phipps W.L.,Nottingham Trent University | Wolter K.,VulPro | Michael M.D.,Eskom | MacTavish L.M.,Mankwe Wildlife Reserve | Yarnell R.W.,Nottingham Trent University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Cape vulture Gyps coprotheres populations have declined across their range due to multiple anthropogenic threats. Their susceptibility to fatal collisions with the expanding power line network and the prevalence of carcasses contaminated with illegal poisons and other threats outside protected areas are thought to be the primary drivers of declines in southern Africa. We used GPS-GSM units to track the movements and delineate the home ranges of five adult (mean ±SD minimum convex polygon area = 121,655±90,845 km2) and four immature (mean ±SD minimum convex polygon area = 492,300±259,427 km2) Cape vultures to investigate the influence of power lines and their use of protected areas. The vultures travelled more than 1,000 km from the capture site and collectively entered five different countries in southern Africa. Their movement patterns and core foraging ranges were closely associated with the spatial distribution of transmission power lines and we present evidence that the construction of power lines has allowed the species to extend its range to areas previously devoid of suitable perches. The distribution of locations of known Cape vulture mortalities caused by interactions with power lines corresponded to the core ranges of the tracked vultures. Although some of the vultures regularly roosted at breeding colonies located inside protected areas the majority of foraging activity took place on unprotected farmland. Their ability to travel vast distances very quickly and the high proportion of time they spend in the vicinity of power lines and outside protected areas make Cape vultures especially vulnerable to negative interactions with the expanding power line network and the full range of threats across the region. Co-ordinated cross-border conservation strategies beyond the protected area network will therefore be necessary to ensure the future survival of threatened vultures in Africa. © 2013 Phipps et al. Source

Yarnell R.W.,Nottingham Trent University | Phipps W.L.,Nottingham Trent University | Burgess L.P.,Nottingham Trent University | Ellis J.A.,Nottingham Trent University | And 5 more authors.
South African Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2013

Interactions between apex and mesopredators and their impacts on prey populations have been well documented, while the influence of apex predators such as lions on carrion availability and the subsequent impacts at lower trophic levels are not fully understood. Here we assess dietary overlap between two sympatric carnivores (brown hyaena, Parahyaena brunnea, and black-backed jackal, Canis mesomelas) in neighbouring reserves with and without apex predators (lions, Panthera leo, and wild dog, Lycaon pictus). We investigate whether apex predators facilitate niche partitioning between mesocarnivores by creating additional scavenging opportunities through predatory activity.We found that brown hyaena density was higher in the area with apex predators, while black-backed jackal density was higher in the area without apex predators. Black-backed jackal scats contained broadly similar dietary items at both sites, while large mammal remains occurred significantly more frequently in brown hyaena scats collected in the presence of apex predators. In the absence of apex predators there was a markedly higher degree of overlap between brown hyaena and jackal diets, suggesting increased levels of inter-specific competition. Our results suggest that apex predators potentially reduce levels of inter-specific competition for food between mesocarnivores by providing additional scavenging opportunities for specialist scavengers such as brown hyaena. Source

Hart A.G.,University of Gloucestershire | Rolfe R.N.,University of Gloucestershire | Dandy S.,University of Gloucestershire | Stubbs H.,University of Gloucestershire | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Illegal hunting (poaching) is a global threat to wildlife. Anti-poaching initiatives are making increasing use of technology, such as infrared thermography (IRT), to support traditional foot and vehicle patrols. To date, the effectiveness of IRT for poacher location has not been tested under field conditions, where thermal signatures are often complex. Here, we test the hypothesis that IRT will increase the distance over which a poacher hiding in African scrub bushveldt can be detected relative to a conventional flashlight. We also test whether any increase in effectiveness is related to the cost and complexity of the equipment by comparing comparatively expensive (22000 USD) and relatively inexpensive (2000 USD) IRT devices. To test these hypotheses we employ a controlled, fully randomised, double-blind procedure to find a poacher in nocturnal field conditions in African bushveldt. Each of our 27 volunteer observers walked three times along a pathway using one detection technology on each pass in randomised order. They searched a prescribed search area of bushveldt within which the target was hiding. Hiding locations were pre-determined, randomised, and changed with each pass. Distances of first detection and positive detection were noted. All technologies could be used to detect the target. Average first detection distance for flashlight was 37.3m, improving by 19.8m to 57.1m using LIRT and by a further 11.2m to 68.3m using HIRT. Although detection distances were significantly greater for both IRTs compared to flashlight, there was no significant difference between LIRT and HIRT. False detection rates were low and there was no significant association between technology and accuracy of detection. Although IRT technology should ideally be tested in the specific environment intended before significant investment is made, we conclude that IRT technology is promising for anti-poaching patrols and that for this purpose low cost IRT units are as effective as units ten times more expensive. © 2015 Hart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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