Leopards (Panthera partus) are the most widespread large felid, yet comparatively little is known about their fine-scale movement patterns and how these affect the risks they face. There has been much debate on the conservation status and management needs for leopards with much extrapolation from limited data. In order to gather more information on leopard movements in Botswana's Northern Tuli Game Reserve, seven leopards were collared between February 2005 and August 2006. This allowed key aspects that affect demography, and thus resilience to anthropogenic effects, to be investigated. Generally, home ranges were typical for breeding females in woodland savanna (32.9 ± 7.3 km2) with substantial overlap (average 26.0%). Core areas though were independent and extremely small (1.9 ± 2.2 km2). These were used primarily for young cub rearing, and were characterized by rugged terrain along riverbeds. This highly localized use places leopards at potential risk of snaring as snares tend to be concentrated along these landscape features. Furthermore, hunters can conceal blinds from which to shoot leopards more easily in these areas. Further risk to adult female survival came from excursions outside the reserve boundary during which livestock was predated. Three incidences of cannibalism by adult territorial males on adult females are also reported, suggesting significant intra-specific competition.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2