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University of Oxford (2004)

The ecology of conservation of lions : human wildlife conflict in semi-arid Botswana

Hemson, Graham A

Titre : The ecology of conservation of lions : human wildlife conflict in semi-arid Botswana .

Auteur : Hemson, Graham A

Université de soutenance : University of Oxford

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) : 2004

Many large carnivore populations are under threat from persecution for killing livestock. Our ability to deal with this threat is limited by our understanding of the aspects of the ecology of large carnivores and the socio-economics of humans relevant to livestock predation. This study adds new evidence to debates surrounding lion ecology, home-range analysis and human-large carnivore conflict mitigation. I use novel methods and try to span the divide between human sciences and ecology to create a holistic view of a conflict and make recommendations based on both ecology and socio-economics. I used variation in the availability of migratory wild prey as a natural experiment to investigate the feeding and spatial ecology of lions. I demonstrate a link between rises in wild prey abundance and declines in the frequency of livestock predation per unit abundance that supports claims that wild prey can buffer people against livestock losses. Changes in livestock predation frequency were not passive responses to changes in prey abundance and stock-raiding lions changed their movements to increase livestock encounter rates although rarely seemed to attack livestock at cattleposts. Instead they spent most time in areas where livestock grazed untended and in which they strayed at night suggesting that, at least in the Makgadikgadi that herding vigilance may be at least as important as static defences (such as reinforced livestock enclosures) at reducing livestock losses. Livestock predation appeared to allow stock-raiders to use smaller home-ranges than other lions which became smaller yet when wild prey was least abundant. People attitudes towards lions and wildlife seemed to reflect a mismatch between revenue and livestock predation distributions in the community. Most benefits accrued to employees while losses accrued to livestock owners and I argue that treating wages as a community benefit is perhaps unwise. Investments in prevention were minimal among livestock owners who blamed the government for the conflict thereby negating their responsibility. However, there were promising signs that joint government/community investment in preventions would be welcomed. In developing the spatial analyses I tested the performance kernel home-range estimation using data from GPS-collars. The results suggest that the preferred implementation of this method is subject to considerable limitations of accuracy and stability and that computer simulated data lacks important similarities with animal movement data. The changes in home-range sizes of stock raiding lions prompted me to re-address previous analysis relating lion social and spatial ecology to prey abundance by trying to incorporate several new studies and the concept of resource dispersion. My analysis, while not conclusive does hint that resource dispersion may play a role in regulating lion social ecology that merits further study.

Présentation : EThOS (UK)

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