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Cape Peninsula University of Technology (2021)

Lion (Panthera Leo), cattle and wildlife interactions on the Kuku Group Ranch Pastoralist Area, Kenya

Olivier, Iain Ralph

Titre : Lion (Panthera Leo), cattle and wildlife interactions on the Kuku Group Ranch Pastoralist Area, Kenya

Auteur : Olivier, Iain Ralph

Université de soutenance : Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Grade : Master of Conservation Science : Nature Conservation 2021

Résumé partiel
Globally, large carnivores populations are declining with dramatic effects on lower trophic levels. As apex predators, large carnivores play critical roles in ecosystem processes, and unnatural declines in large carnivore populations can adversely affect their ecosystems. The reasons for declining carnivore numbers are numerous. However, one of the main threats to carnivores is human-wildlife conflict. Increases in human-wildlife interactions can pose significant threats to human safety and domestic livestock, causing conflict. Global human-wildlife conflicts have increased drastically over the last decade, and the countries of East Africa experience some of the highest rates of carnivore and other wildlife conflicts in the world. Lions are often the cause of conflict with livestock-owning people outside of formally protected areas when they often prey upon livestock, causing financial loss and negative perceptions, which frequently leads to their destruction. It is essential to understand why lions are involved in human-wildlife conflicts and the drivers of such conflict. East Africa is home to three lion strongholds in Africa, including the study site within The Kuku Group Ranch (KGR). The KGR is a community-owned area covering 1 133 km², located near the Kenya-Tanzania border. The KGR is a wildlife corridor linking the Tsavo West, Amboseli, Chyulu Hills, and Kilimanjaro national parks. KGR is crucial for maintaining healthy wildlife populations, including a lion population, and preserving natural ecological processes in the area. However, lion populations are more frequently coming into contact with humans due to livestock and human expansion in the group ranch. Livestock expansion increases pressure on lion populations, and conflicts where lions are killed due to cattle depredations, are becoming commonplace. Viable lion populations present in the KGR suggest that lions can survive if the conflict rate between cattle owning people and lions is slowed. But the situation requires research as no formal, standardised investigations into the diets of lions and the drivers of cattle depredation have been conducted. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to investigate lion diet and prey preference in the KGR, a communal mixed-use area. The secondary aim was to understand how rainfall, lag rainfall (the average of the preceding two months and current months rainfall), Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and prey availability variables affected cattle depredation rates over 36 months in the KGR. Drivers that affected cattle depredation were investigated by modelling how variables influenced cattle depredation rates. Information on lions’ diets was obtained from an investigation of predicted lion feeding sites obtained from location data of lions fitted with satellite collars (n = 7). Potential feeding sites were identified by analysing Global Positioning System (GPS) data points to identify positions where three or more consecutive GPS fixes were less than 100 m apart, and lions spent longer than 9 hours consecutively. Two data sources were used to estimate prey availability.


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