Africa's large predator guild (lion, Panthera leo; leopard, Panthera pardus; spotted hyaena, Crocuta crocuta; cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, and African wild dog, Lycaon pictus) occurs sympatrically with high dietary overlap. Temporal partitioning could facilitate coexistence, but there has been no study testing this or the factors that may Influence the evolution of predator activity patterns. The activity patterns of Africa's large predators were reviewed, using published sources, and the degree of activity overlap was assessed. Six hypotheses were made based on three hypotheses of factors driving the evolution of predator activity patterns: Increased foraging success, and scramble and Interference competition. All predators exhibited a degree of crepuscular behaviour, supporting hypotheses relating to increased hunting success. Nocturnal predators exhibit decreased activity at the darkest times of night due to visual limitations. There was no support for the hypothesis that predators would be active at the same time as their main prey species. Although all members of the guild suffer intraguild predation, only subordinate members exhibited scramble competition avoidance by minimizing activity at the same times as their intraguild predators. Subordinate predators (wild dogs and cheetahs), frequently reported as suffering from kleptoparasitism, minimize simultaneous activity with major kleptoparasites (lions and spotted hyaenas). These latter top predators have high dietary overlap; however, they do not avoid Interference competition by minimizing activity overlap. Thus, optimal activity patterns evolved to satisfy a diverse range of factors that differ amongst species. Competition avoidance is the primary cause of the temporal partitioning in activity between subordinate and top predators. Africa's carnivores have also evolved morphological adaptations to their activity patterns reflecting the length of time they have occurred in sympatry.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2