The feeding ecology, habitat selection and hunting behaviour of re-introduced cheetah on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve , Eastern Cape Province

Bissett, Charlene (2005) The feeding ecology, habitat selection and hunting behaviour of re-introduced cheetah on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve , Eastern Cape Province. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

Bissett-MSc-TR05-81 (MSc).pdf



The re-introduction of cheetah onto small reserves in the Eastern Cape Province has created the opportunity to study this species in an environment (Valley Bushveld) in which it has not previously been studied and which is quite different from the less wooded habitats in which previous studies have occurred. Thus the aim of this study is to add to the growing number of studies of cheetah in more wooded habitats and to contribute a better understanding of the level of specialization or adaptability in space use, habitat selection, diet and hunting behaviour that the cheetah possesses. The research was conducted on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve from February 2003 to August 2004. Direct observations, scat analysis and continuous observations were used to avoid bias towards large sized prey found when only using direct observations to study diet. The cheetah killed 15 species and four of the five most important prey species (kudu, springbok, grey duiker and bushbuck) were hunted according to their abundance on the reserve, while impala, the fifth most important prey species, was avoided (i.e. preference index less than one) by the cheetah. The cheetah’s main prey was medium sized ungulates, although the three male coalition killed larger prey than females and females with cubs. The daily food intake per cheetah per day was calculated to range from 5.3kg/cheetah/day for the coalition to 8kg/cheetah/day for a solitary female. Home range areas ranged from 11.1 km² for female cheetah with cubs in a den to 65.6 km² for single female cheetah and core areas ranged from 6 km² for the three male coalition to 26.5 km² for independent cubs. Habitat selection by cheetah on Kwandwe varied between the social groups depending on their susceptibility to predation by lions, their need for cover and need for water, and was similar to what has been previously reported. The home range of the coalition incorporated the most open vegetation type (karroid shrubland) with surrounding denser vegetation, while females occupied areas of denser vegetation. Activity patterns and hunting behaviour varied between different cheetah social groups with female cheetah being more active during day light hours compared to males which made 38% of their kills after dark. The average chase distances for the various cheetah groups varied considerably, and the chase distance for successful hunts was longer than for unsuccessful for all groups except single female cheetah. The percentage of kills’ kleptoparasitised on Kwandwe was very low compared to other studies possibly due to the low density of direct competitors, which in turn lead to longer mean kill retention times. These results suggest that cheetah are more adaptable than previously thought and this adaptability may have important implications for their conservation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Cheetahs, South Africa
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
ID Code:2501
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:28 Feb 2012 09:31
Last Modified:28 Feb 2012 09:31
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