Despite their wide distribution, feeding habits of leopards, Panthera pardus, outside savanna and forest habitats are poorly understood. We explored a novel approach of combining both GPS cluster and activity data analysis to study the hunting activity of a single female leopard in the Cederberg Mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa. Positions and acceleration data were obtained using a Vectronic GPS-PLUS collar. In total, 1760 GPS positions with a fix success of 87% were obtained between June 2008 and February 2009. Fifty-four of 78 potential kill sites identified from GPS data records were investigated 171 ± 91 days (mean ± S.D.) after the potential predation event which resulted in the detection of prey remains at 31 sites (success rate of 57.4%). Activity pattern was different at small-kill (rock hyrax; Hewitt's rock rabbit, Pronolagus saundersiae) sites compared to large-kill (antelope) sites, although data did not achieve significance (P = 0.07). Results of frequency analyses of activity data allowed the differentiation between feeding and non-feeding activity. The combination of different methods such as GPS telemetry and activity measurement provides a valuable means for detecting kill sites in rugged and largely inaccessible regions where direct observations and scat collection are difficult.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2