Centre for African Conservation Ecology
Africa is home to five large carnivores with big appetites: cheetah, lion, leopard, spotted hyaena and leopard. Hayley Clements spent 2 years tracking cheetah to find out what they like to eat. This information, combined with additional kill data from all over Africa for cheetah as well as the four other large carnivores, allowed the estimation of the sizes of prey that each of these predators liked to eat.
In: Clements HS, Tambling CJ, Hayward MW, Kerley GIH (2014)
An Objective Approach to Determining the Weight Ranges of Prey Preferred by and Accessible to the Five Large African Carnivores.
PLoS ONE 9(7): e101054.
Game reserves are increasingly important for the conservation of large carnivores, as these large carnivores require large areas and abundant food, and that outside these reserves they are heavily persecuted. Game reserves in South Africa which conserve large carnivores are legally required to have adequate fencing to prevent escapes. These fences do well in protecting large carnivores, but they also prevent carnivores from moving away from the game reserve resulting in high carnivore densities in these reserves. These high densities of carnivores can cause declines in their prey populations. It is therefore important that game reserve managers know which prey species are vulnerable to predation by these large carnivores. Monitoring the numbers of these often eaten prey species can provide an early indication that the predator population numbers might be getting to high. We used kill information from throughout Africa to determine what the five large African carnivores eat.
What we found
Each carnivore generally kills prey within a specific size range, and within that there is a narrower size range that they prefer.
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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