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Sun Valley, South Africa

Martins Q.,The Cape Leopard Trust | Martins Q.,University of Bristol | Harris S.,University of Bristol
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2013

Few data are available on the behaviour of leopards in the absence of competing large predators and human impact, both of which are believed to influence leopard activity and movements. Remote camera traps and global positioning system (GPS) collars were used to quantify leopard activity in the Cederberg Mountains, seasonal and sexual differences in their movements, and determine whether nocturnal hunting success was related to lunar activity. Seventy-seven per cent of camera-trap photographs were at night, with a strong male bias (69%) in captures. Daily displacement using one location per day suggested that males moved significantly further than females. However, multiple locations (≥6 per day) showed no difference because males moved in a more linear fashion, but not further each day, than females. In the Cederberg Mountains, an open rocky habitat with low human impact and no competing predators, leopards were predominantly nocturnal, mainly hunting diurnal prey species. Hunting success was low: leopards travelled long distances between kills, with nocturnal hunting success higher on darker nights. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Ropiquet A.,Middlesex University | Ropiquet A.,Stellenbosch University | Knight A.T.,Imperial College London | Knight A.T.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | And 9 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Biologies | Year: 2015

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is heavily persecuted in areas where it predates livestock and threatens human well-being. Attempts to resolve human-leopard conflict typically involve translocating problem animals; however, these interventions are rarely informed by genetic studies and can unintentionally compromise the natural spatial genetic structure and diversity, and possibly the long-term persistence, of the species. No significant genetic discontinuities were definable within the southern African leopard population. Analysis of fine-scale genetic data derived from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA revealed that the primary natural process shaping the spatial genetic structure of the species is isolation-by-distance (IBD). The effective gene dispersal (σ) index can inform leopard translocations and is estimated to be 82. km for some South African leopards. The importance of adopting an evidence-based strategy is discussed for supporting the integration of genetic data, spatial planning and social learning institutions so as to promote collaboration between land managers, government agency staff and researchers. © 2015 Académie des sciences.

Martins Q.,The Cape Leopard Trust | Martins Q.,University of Bristol | Horsnell W.G.C.,University of Cape Town | Titus W.,The Cape Leopard Trust | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2011

Studying leopards Panthera pardus in mountainous regions is challenging and there is little ecological information on their behaviour in these habitats. We used data from global positioning system (GPS) radio-collared leopards in conjunction with leopard scat analysis to identify key aspects of leopard feeding habits in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. We located 53 leopard kill/feeding sites from clustered GPS locations of ≥4 h and analysed 93 leopard scats. Both methods showed that klipspringers Oreotragus oreotragus and rock hyraxes Procavia capensis were the most common prey. GPS location clusters showed that the time leopards spent at a given location was positively related both to the probability of detecting prey remains and to prey size. Leopards made significantly more large kills in winter than summer (P=0.003); there was no significant difference between male and female leopards in the average number of large kills or the average time spent at large kill sites. We show that, when studying large carnivores in inaccessible areas, it is important to use a combination of techniques to understand their feeding ecology and that GPS locations can be used to provide an accurate measure of diet even when small prey are being taken. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Zoology © 2010 The Zoological Society of London.

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