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18 May 2023 Movement Choices of Persecuted Caracals on Farmlands in South Africa
Kristine J. Teichman, B. Cristescu, L. Crevier, M.J. O'Riain, K.E. Hodges
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Abstract

Landscapes used for livestock agriculture are common worldwide and have the potential for wildlife-human conflict, particularly when carnivores prey on livestock. Identifying habitat features that influence carnivore movements in livestock areas can help mitigate conflict. The caracal (Caracal caracal) is a common mesopredator on farms in southern Africa. We used Step Selection Functions to identify habitat selection of Global Positioning System collared male caracal (n = 8) along their movement paths on private farmlands in a semiarid region of South Africa. In the wet season, some caracals selected rugged terrain but high elevations were avoided by certain individuals. Electric fences were avoided, whereas some animals moved close to farm buildings. Many caracals selected shrubland and avoided main roads, but the opposite movement choices were documented for some individuals. Plowed fields were consistently avoided. In the dry season, caracal movements were similar to those recorded in the wet season, but there was greater variability in individual choices. On the basis of model averaging, caracals appeared to move closer to electric fences in the dry season, but such patterns were not significant from individual-level analyses. Because some caracals avoided, whereas others selected, the same habitats or anthropogenic features and model averaging could not detect those differences, we recommend that whenever possible, individual movement choices of predators are assessed. For caracals and other carnivores that prey on livestock, understanding the ecology of individuals as opposed to exclusively population-level habitat choices may be more informative for conflict mitigation.

Kristine J. Teichman, B. Cristescu, L. Crevier, M.J. O'Riain, and K.E. Hodges "Movement Choices of Persecuted Caracals on Farmlands in South Africa," Rangeland Ecology and Management 88(1), 77-84, (18 May 2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2023.02.004
Received: 5 July 2022; Accepted: 17 February 2023; Published: 18 May 2023
KEYWORDS
Caracal caracal
habitat selection
human-wildlife conflict
livestock predation
movement ecology
Namaqualand
rangeland ecology
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