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Quantifying landscape characteristics that wildlife select is essential for conservation and management action. Models that map wildlife resource selection tend to be informed by telemetry technology which is costly to acquire/maintain and potentially risky to deploy. Therefore, there is value in pursuing alternative data collection protocols, such as citizen scientist approaches to ascertain whether they can reveal results comparable to those derived from telemetry studies. The conservation of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) presents an interesting case study to examine this topic. The species is rare and wideranging, hence data collection is both challenging and costly. They are, however, a groupliving species with unique and conspicuous coat markings, making them potentially well-suited to citizen science data collection strategies. Here, we fitted resource selection functions (RSFs) built from Global Position System (GPS) telemetry data, and from citizen scientist data, collected in and around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We assessed comparability of these RSFs by evaluating the relative importance of parameters, parameter coefficients (direction and magnitude of effect), and the spatial predictions of relative probability of use by African wild dogs. The most important predictors in both models were proportion of woodland and bushland, the number of habitat types, and distance to waterhole. Furthermore, spatial predictions from both models displayed a high degree of overlap (r = 0.74), indicating similarities in selected and avoided habitat patches. Our analysis demonstrates that sufficient citizen science data can be a valuable alternative to telemetry data for African wild dogs. We thus encourage the collection and use of citizen science data for similar analyses, particularly when funding is limited. Our work also highlights areas in and around Hwange National Park with the highest probability of being used by African wild dogs, which is where conservation efforts should be intensified.
African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) are hunted for their trophies and the meat is seen as a secondary product. Little information exists on the chemical composition of buffalo meat or the effect that sex and muscle type may have thereupon. In the present investigation, eight male and four female buffalo that were found to be positive for tuberculosis (Mycobacteriumbovis) were culled and the chemical composition of their meat determined. Although male buffalo meat had higher moisture and protein than females, these differences were small and it is debatable whether a consumer would notice such differences. The amount of fat (<2 g/100g) and ash did not differ between sexes. Similarly, the differences in the proximate composition of the Biceps femoris, Longissimus dorsi and Semimembranosus muscles were all also <1 g/100 g meat. Sex had no effect on the amino acid composition of the muscles but alanine, valine and histidine content differed between muscle types although the differences were <1 g/100 g protein. The fatty acid (FA) composition did not differ between sexes or muscle type. Oleic acid was the dominant FA followed by linoleic and palmitic acids. The FA had similar ratios of saturated FA (∼38%), mono-unsaturated FA (∼31%) and poly-unsaturated FA (∼29%). The low fat to protein ratio and a poly-unsaturated to saturated FA ratio of >0.7 indicates that buffalo meat is a lean, healthy and condensed protein source.
Apex predators can have considerable impacts on meso-carnivore diets, through competition or facilitation. Facilitation occurs when smaller predators consume carrion created by larger predators, especially large-bodied prey species normally inaccessible to meso-carnivores. In contrast, apex predators can also negatively affect meso-carnivore consumption of important resources through competitive interactions. Thus, predicting meso-carnivore responses to trophic structure changes (i.e. apex predator extirpation or reintroduction) is often difficult. We investigated stable carbon and nitrogen isotope niche breadths of black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) in response to the reintroduction of an apex predator, the African lion (Panthera leo), to the Karoo National Park, South Africa. Jackal faecal isotopic niche widths were larger in post-lion than pre-lion samples, indicating a niche expansion to include pure C3- and C4-based food sources when lions were present. Most prey items of this nature in the study area are large-bodied ungulates. Our results agree with results of traditional scat analysis, which showed that prey species >92 kg were consumed more often after the lion reintroduction. Stable isotope data from carnivore faeces are effective for tracking responses of wildlife to changing ecological conditions, providing an alternative source of information about changes in community structure brought about by management interventions.
Division of labour, in terms of providing for offspring, in obligate cooperatively breeding mammalian species is poorly understood. To understand offspring provisioning in a cooperatively breeding canid, we analysed a long-term dataset comprising 22 African wild dog, Lycaon pictus, denning events (nine packs over nine consecutive years). We investigated the effects of sex, age class, social status, and pack size on the likelihood and frequency of regurgitating food to pups at the den. We found that the interaction of social status and pack size affected the likelihood of regurgitation. Specifically, when in a large (≤15) pack, dominant individuals were less likely to regurgitate than subordinate individuals. However, in smaller (≤ 15) packs, dominant individuals were more likely to regurgitate than subordinate individuals. We also found that the interaction of age and pack size affected the frequency of regurgitation. Specifically, in large packs, yearlings regurgitated more frequently per observation period than adults. Contrastingly, in smaller packs, adults regurgitated more frequently. Sex did not affect pup provisioning. We suggest that these contrasting patterns of helping are best explained by a strong selection pressure for individual behaviour that results in larger pack sizes in this species. When in larger packs, costs are shared as the division of labour spreads amongst individuals. In smaller packs, a division of labour requires individuals that already experience costs (such as reproduction) to be further burdened by provisioning. Overall, our results support that the need for more helpers to care for offspring contributes to the evolutionary consequence of an inverse density dependence.
Understanding species' site use patterns is important for conservation and human—wildlife conflict mitigation where humans, livestock and large carnivores coexist. We used occupancy models and interviews to evaluate site use by medium and large carnivores within the rural Meibae Community Conservancy and agriculturally-developed Salama areas of Kenya. We conducted monthly surveys for 4 months along 32 transects covering 160 km in both study areas, and collected detection/non-detection data for nine carnivore species (>10 kg) via direct sighting, tracks and scat. We modelled carnivore site use against both anthropogenic and environmental variables while accounting for imperfect detection, and conducted interviews to determine presence of conflict carnivores. Black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) site use was most strongly associated with higher livestock abundance. Rare or wider-ranging species were seldom (e.g. cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus) or never (e.g. African lion, Panthera leo) detected on transect surveys but were reported during interviews. We conclude that transect surveys were unreliable for evaluating presence of less common species in our study areas. While interviews were more effective, we recommend that future interviews should account for potential false-positive detections. We make suggestions for improving surveys and recommend combining methods to quantify site use by wide-ranging and cryptic carnivores.
While West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) were elevated to Critically Endangered status by the IUCN in 2016 as a result of significant population declines in recent decades, little is known about the population in Senegal. We surveyed the West African chimpanzees outside protected areas in the Kedougou region of southeastern Senegal between November 2014 and July 2015 using recce walks (n = 57, totalling 300 km of pedestrian survey distance) in potential chimpanzee habitats. We recorded direct observations of chimpanzees or indices of chimpanzee activity, such as sleeping nests, footprints and faeces. We accumulated 21 direct contacts with chimpanzees and recorded 3489 chimpanzee nests. We mapped the distribution of chimpanzee sleeping sites and indicators of anthropogenic activity by regional administrative units to facilitate species management and conservation planning in the immediate future. In addition, we identified the habitats and tree species used by chimpanzees to construct their nests in order to explore nesting tree preferences. Chimpanzees used almost 40 tree species in the Kedougou region but 84% of nests were associated with eight tree species, namely Pterocarpus erinaceus, Diospyrosmespiliformis, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Hexalobus monopetalus, Cola cordifolia, Lannea sp., Parkia biglobosa and Piliostigma thonningii. Among these eight nesting tree species, 60% of the corresponding nests were located in three species: P. erinaceus, D. mespiliformis and A. leiocarpus. Chimpanzees nested more often in woodland habitat than in gallery forests, although the latter accounts for only a small percentage of available habitat. This study is the most geographically extensive survey of chimpanzees in Senegal to date, broadening our knowledge of the species' northwestern-most distribution in West Africa.
The persistence of black (Diceros bicornis minor) and white (Ceratotherium simum simum) rhinoceroses in the Kruger National Park (Kruger) is a key requirement for global rhinoceros conservation targets. Yet, poaching for rhinoceros horn poses a threat. In response, authorities are implementing an integrated response to curb the effect of poaching on rhinoceroses in Kruger. Nevertheless, researchers predicted both species would decline by 2016. The predictions were realized for southern white rhinoceroses, but it is uncertain whether the decline is real for south-central black rhinoceroses. Several evaluations are needed to elucidate uncertainties associated with detecting trends, the most important being to evaluate the effect of carcass detection rates on estimates of poaching rates. Nonetheless, poaching effects on rhinoceroses are disrupting conservation efforts to recover both southern white and south-central black rhinoceroses.