Dete, Zimbabwe
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Van Der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | Van Der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Moyo M.,Painted Dog Conservation | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2011

The energetic output of hunting African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) is extremely high. Therefore, survival and reproductive success depend not only on the ability to secure prey but also on minimizing foraging costs. African wild dogs often coexist with lions (Panthera leo) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta); these competitors can seriously increase foraging costs by kleptoparasitism. In this study, we empirically and experimentally assessed the risk and costs of kleptoparasitism for African wild dogs inside Hwange National Park, where hyena densities are high, and outside the park, where hyena densities are lower. Lion densities within the study area have been fluctuating. The risk and costs of kleptoparasitism were determined by comparing direct observations during hunt follows of radio collared African wild dog packs and by the use of experimental call-ups with African wild dog sounds inside and outside Hwange National Park. The risk of kleptoparasitism was found to be significantly higher inside the park. The time it took lions and hyenas to get to the kill site during African wild dog hunts was longer outside the park allowing the dogs a longer carcass access time. The found differences in risk and costs of kleptoparasitism could contribute to African wild dog habitat choice for the buffer zone outside Hwange National Park. As habitat choice in and around protected areas is often related to the possibility of exposure to an "edge effect," interspecific competition should be considered in the conservation strategy of African wild dogs. © 2011 The Author.


Van Der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | Van Der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Fritz H.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Pays O.,CNRS HERD Program | Pays O.,University of Angers
Behaviour | Year: 2015

Predators not only prey upon certain prey species, but also on certain age-sex classes within species. Predation risk and an individual's response to this risk might therefore vary with an individual's characteristics. We examined the proportion of time different age-sex classes of kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and impala (Aepyceros melampus) spent high quality vigilant (costly vigilance that detracts from all other activities) in response to mimicked predation risk by African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). For both species predation risk was the main factor determining the investment in high quality vigilance behaviour. Age-sex class-specific responses were not related to age-sex class specific lethality risk presented by African wild dogs. For impala, regardless of predation risk, age seemed to have some effect on the investment in high quality vigilance with sub-adult impala spending more time high quality vigilant than adult impala, which is possibly why African wild dogs predominantly preyed upon adult impala. © 2015 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden.


van der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | van der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Pays O.,CNRS HERD Project | Pays O.,University of Angers | Fritz H.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1
Ethology | Year: 2012

In this study, we examined the behavioural, temporal and spatial effects of simulated African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) presence on its two main prey species: kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and impala (Aepyceros melampus). We spread African wild dog faeces around waterholes and played African wild dog sounds at different intervals to mimic immediate and non-immediate predation pressure. We looked at anti-predator behaviour at both a herd and individual level and distinguished between high-quality (detracts from all other activities), high-cost vigilance and low-quality (used to monitor the surrounding in spare time), low-cost vigilance to determine costs involved. We found that simulated African wild dog presence had little effect on anti-predator behaviour of their free-ranging prey. Only when immediate predation risk was mimicked did kudu invest in (additional) high-quality vigilance, whereas impala showed no response. Regardless of direct cues of African wild dog presence, behavioural adjustments to reduce predation risk were primarily based on environmental factors such as time of the day and broad-scale habitat structure. Predators have been shown to utilize waterholes to hunt, and prey species are therefore likely to maximize anti-predator behaviour in this high-risk environment based on environmental variables affecting predation risk, the main predator within the system, and water requirements, leaving little flexibility to respond to (simulated) African wild dog presence. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


Scharis I.,Linköping University | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation | Laska M.,Linköping University
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2016

Reliable population estimation and species inventories are important for wildlife conservation, but such estimations are often difficult due to unreliable identification of the species in question. Furthermore, for predator conflict resolution, it is essential to be able to reliably identify the predator. This study presents a new method to quantitatively distinguish African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) footprints from feral domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) footprints. Footprint photographs were digitally processed using Photoshop and the NIH image processing software ImageJ, and total pad area and angles between the centroids of the backpad and the digits of the paw were measured. Pad angles showed statistically significant differences between the two species and, with the exception that there was no significant difference in pad area between African wild dog females and domestic dog males, total pad areas were also diagnostic. Consequently, the combination of total pad area and the angle between backpad and digits are useful discriminators to reliably identify the species from an unknown footprint. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Ndaimani H.,University of Zimbabwe | Tagwireyi P.,University of Zimbabwe | Sebele L.,Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority | Madzikanda H.,Painted Dog Conservation
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

In dry biomes, spatio-temporal variation in surface water resource stocks is pervasive, with unknown effects on the ranging behaviour of large predators. This study assessed the effect of spatial variation in surface water resources on the ranging behaviour of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). We analyzed data for 1992 (dry year with 20 water points) and 2000 (wet year with 30 water points) against presence-only data for five packs of L. pictus in a part of Hwange National Park and adjacent smallholder communal farming areas in western Zimbabwe. Modelling the potential habitat for L. pictus using Maxent with distance from water points (Dw) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as predictor variables was successful for 2000 (AUC = 0.793) but not successful for 1992 (AUC = 0.423), with L. pictus probability of occurrence near water points being more for year 2000 than for year 1992. The predicted L. pictus range was wider in 1992 (∼13888.1 km2) than in 2000 (∼958.4 km2) (Test of Proportions, χ2 = 124.52, df = 1, P = 0.00). Using the 2nd order Multitype Nearest Neighbour Distance Function (Gcross), we also observed significant attraction between L. pictus and water points within only ∼1km radius for 1992 but up to ∼8km radius for 2000. Our study reinforced the notion that surface water resources attract wild dogs in the savannahs but paradoxically less so when water resources are scarce. In particular, our study furthers current understanding of the effects of changing water availability regimes on the endangered L. pictus, providing evidence that the endangered predator's home range encroaches into potential ecological traps (i.e., smallholder communal farming areas) when water resources are scarce. © 2016 Ndaimani 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.


Van der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | Van der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation | Muvengwi J.,Bindura University of Science Education | Fritz H.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

When selecting a habitat, animals utilize habitat in which they yield the highest rate of energy. Differences in foraging costs and hunting success are therefore likely to affect habitat choice. In a previous study, we showed that African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) packs with territories inside Hwange National Park (HNP), over the course of several years, moved their territories into the buffer zone outside HNP, where reproductive success was higher but anthropogenic mortality exceeded natality. In this study, based on long-term radio-telemetry data from 22 African wild dog packs, we analysed whether differences in foraging costs and hunting success could have contributed to this territorial drift. Taking seasonality and pack size into account, we determined foraging costs (foraging distance and chase distance) and hunting success (successful or failed chase) inside and outside HNP. Although we observed no difference in foraging costs, hunting success was higher outside HNP, which is likely to have contributed to the territorial drift into the buffer zone outside the protected area. This study shows the importance of taking factors affecting hunting success into account in the conservation strategy of African wild dogs. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Van Der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | Fritz H.,CNRS HERD Project | Fritz H.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Blinston P.,Painted Dog Conservation | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation
ORYX | Year: 2014

Because of the large home range requirements of wide-ranging carnivores, protected areas are often too small to maintain large populations. Consequently these carnivores regularly move outside protected areas, where they are likely to be exposed to anthropogenic mortality. We used data from 15 packs of radio-collared African wild dogs Lycaon pictus to examine the level of anthropogenic mortality African wild dogs experience around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and tried to determine whether the buffer zone outside the Park acts as an 'ecological trap'. Over time, study packs moved their territories closer to or beyond the Park border. With the movement of territories into the buffer zone outside the Park, African wild dogs experienced an increasing level of anthropogenic mortality. Although larger litters were born outside the Park, mortality exceeded natality. Densities of the African wild dog in the study area were low and territories for given pack sizes were smaller outside the Park. Hence, the movement of packs outside the Park does not appear to be density related and the buffer zone is therefore unlikely to function as a classic sink. Favourable ecological conditions indicate that the buffer zone outside the Park is likely to serve as an ecological trap, with fitness-enhancing factors attracting African wild dogs outside the Park, where they are incapable of perceiving the higher mortality risk associated with mostly indirect anthropogenic causes. As far as we know this is one of the first studies describing an ecological trap for mammals. © Fauna & Flora International 2013.


van der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | van der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation | Fritz H.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1
Animal Conservation | Year: 2015

In a natural environment, there are high-quality habitats that produce a surplus of animals (sources), facilitating migration into low-quality habitats in which mortality exceeds natality (sinks). Human alterations can increase the attractiveness of a low-quality habitat and/or decrease the suitability of a high-quality habitat, herewith creating an ecological trap. In an ecological trap, animals prefer to stay in habitats where mortality exceeds natality, which can result in extirpation of a population. It is important to distinguish ecological traps from sinks; however, relative population densities do not necessarily give reliable information. In order to identify ecological traps and set appropriate conservation priorities, it is necessary to gain insight into the relationship between habitat preference, quality and suitability. In this study, we used African wild dog hunt data and energetic cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the preferred habitat outside Hwange National Park (HNP) serves as an ecological trap. This analysis enabled us to take several ecological factors into account while assessing habitat quality. Although outside HNP anthropogenic mortality exceeded natality, per capita energetic intake was higher. This indicates that the habitat outside HNP serves as an ecological trap where human alterations have decreased the suitability of the high quality habitat. In order to ensure the recovery of the African wild dog population, conservation efforts should therefore focus on improving the suitability of the habitat outside HNP. This study shows that an energetic cost-benefit analysis can assist with identifying ecological traps and setting conservation priorities. Moreover, in cases of social territorial species, the cost-benefit analysis may also help to identify ecological traps before source populations are depleted, thus increasing the likelihood of population recovery. © 2015 The Zoological Society of London.


Van der Meer E.,Painted Dog Conservation | Van der Meer E.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Mpofu J.,Painted Dog Conservation | Rasmussen G.S.A.,Painted Dog Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2013

To successfully reproduce, many carnivorous mammals need access to suitable den sites. Den site selection is often based on fitness related criteria like escape from predators, food availability and shelter from extreme weather conditions. African wild dogs are cooperative breeders that use a den to give birth to their offspring. They often co-exist with lions and spotted hyenas, both of which are known to kill African wild dog pups. Little is known about den site selection by African wild dogs. In this study, we compared vegetation characteristics and distribution of roads and waterholes around den sites and random sites, in areas with high and low lion and spotted hyena densities. In both areas, African wild dogs selected den sites in closed woodland with little visibility, which is likely to reduce detection by predators, increase the likelihood of escape when detected, and might provide shelter from extreme weather conditions. In the high predator density area, African wild dogs seemed to spatially avoid predators by selecting den sites in this type of habitat relatively further away from waterholes and roads. African wild dogs have high energetic costs of gestation. Therefore, even when predation risk is relatively low, they are likely to try to maximise their fitness by choosing a den site in habitat that will provide optimal protection for their offspring, leaving little additional options to respond to a higher predation pressure. © 2013 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.


PubMed | University of Zimbabwe, Painted Dog Conservation and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

In dry biomes, spatio-temporal variation in surface water resource stocks is pervasive, with unknown effects on the ranging behaviour of large predators. This study assessed the effect of spatial variation in surface water resources on the ranging behaviour of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). We analyzed data for 1992 (dry year with 20 water points) and 2000 (wet year with 30 water points) against presence-only data for five packs of L. pictus in a part of Hwange National Park and adjacent smallholder communal farming areas in western Zimbabwe. Modelling the potential habitat for L. pictus using Maxent with distance from water points (Dw) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as predictor variables was successful for 2000 (AUC = 0.793) but not successful for 1992 (AUC = 0.423), with L. pictus probability of occurrence near water points being more for year 2000 than for year 1992. The predicted L. pictus range was wider in 1992 (~13888.1 km2) than in 2000 (~958.4 km2) (Test of Proportions, 2 = 124.52, df = 1, P = 0.00). Using the 2nd order Multitype Nearest Neighbour Distance Function (Gcross), we also observed significant attraction between L. pictus and water points within only ~1km radius for 1992 but up to ~8km radius for 2000. Our study reinforced the notion that surface water resources attract wild dogs in the savannahs but paradoxically less so when water resources are scarce. In particular, our study furthers current understanding of the effects of changing water availability regimes on the endangered L. pictus, providing evidence that the endangered predators home range encroaches into potential ecological traps (i.e., smallholder communal farming areas) when water resources are scarce.

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