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1 April 2011 Population Characteristics of Lions (Panthera leo) in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Paul J. Funston
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Abstract

Lions (Panthera leo) that kill livestock around the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park have been persecuted for decades. The impact of this on the population ecology and long-term survival probability of this population has been unknown. This was largely due to a lack of basic population information. The results of a three-year intensive study from 1998 to 2001 into the population characteristics of Kgalagadi lions are presented. Kgalagadi lions exhibit similar population characteristics to most other lion populations and show little to no effect of anthropogenic mortality. Differences from other populations include exceptionally large home ranges (1462 ± 388 km2), which are however related to prey biomass. The adult sex ratio was more biased towards females than is typical, which is possibly a product of both ecological and anthropogenic influences. Cub survival is related to rainfall conditions and the number of adult lionesses in groups with cubs, but not to the number of adult males defending each pride. Owing to low prey abundance prides form stable subgroups typically containing two adult lionesses for long periods once cubs have reached one year of age. Kgalagadi lions show similar dispersal patterns to other lion populations with resident prey. Subadults in boundary prides suffer high mortality levels in response to livestock depredation. Males are more likely to become habitual livestock raiders, which ultimately leads to them being killed.

Paul J. Funston "Population Characteristics of Lions (Panthera leo) in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park," South African Journal of Wildlife Research 41(1), 1-10, (1 April 2011). https://doi.org/10.3957/056.041.0108
Received: 6 October 2009; Accepted: 1 February 2011; Published: 1 April 2011
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