The feeding and spatial ecology of cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and lions (Panthera leo) in the Little Karoo, South Africa

Vorster, Paul H. (2012) The feeding and spatial ecology of cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and lions (Panthera leo) in the Little Karoo, South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The re-introduction of large carnivores into relatively small conservation areas that fall within the historic distribution range of the species is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. The success of such re-introductions depends very much on the quality of the information that is available to guide management decisions, but in many cases, little information is available. The re-introduction of lions and cheetahs to Sanbona created the opportunity to monitor the behaviour of re-introduced predators to a relatively large system that was characterised by a low ungulate stocking density and little standing water. The broad aims were to study the feeding and spatial ecologies of the lions and cheetahs, to collect standard base-line data, and to examine the effects of the low prey density and limited standing water on habitat selection, range size and diet. The diet (data collected from direct observation and faecal analysis) was similar to that reported in previous studies, and lions and cheetahs preferred greater kudu, black wildebeest and springbok. Lions preferred medium to large prey items, and cheetahs preferred medium to small prey items. The hilly and mountainous terrain of much of the reserve meant that only 50% of the total space was available to the predators. Home ranges of most of the predators were focused around the single large body of standing water. This is likely to have been a response to the water, the vegetation, and the prey that was attracted to these. Habitat selection was also influenced by inter and intra-specific interactions at least for a solitary male lion and female cheetahs. Range sizes were larger than on some other reserves and it is suggested that this was a result of the low prey density. These results form the basis for management recommendations including the importance of continuing to monitor the system and opening up additional parts of the reserve to the predators.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Cheetah, Lion, Behavior, South Africa, Little Karoo, Spatial behavior in animals, Predation, Game reserves management
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals
Q Science > QL Zoology > Animal behaviour
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
ID Code:3184
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:22 Aug 2012 07:20
Last Modified:22 Aug 2012 07:20
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