Research Papers

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Influence of prey dispersion on territory and group size of African lions: a test of the resource dispersion hypothesis

Empirical tests of the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH), a theory to explain group living based on resource heterogeneity, have been complicated by the fact that resource patch dispersion and richness have proved difficult to define and measure in natural systems. Here, we studied the ecology of African lions Panthera leo in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, where waterholes are prey hotspots, and where dispersion of water sources and abundance of prey at these water sources are quantifiable. We combined a 10-year data set from GPS-collared lions for which information of group composition was available concurrently with data for herbivore abundance at waterholes. The distance between two neighboring waterholes was a strong determinant of lion home range size, which provides strong support for the RDH prediction that territory size increases as resource patches are more dispersed in the landscape. The mean number of herbivore herds using a waterhole, a good proxy of patch richness, determined the maximum lion group biomass an area can support. This finding suggests that patch richness sets a maximum ceiling on lion group size. This study demonstrates that landscape ecology is a major driver of ranging behavior and suggests that aspects of resource dispersion limit group sizes.

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Factors affecting livestock predation by lions in Cameroon

Interviews were carried out in six villages south-west of Waza National Park, Cameroon, to investigate the impact of factors related to the occurrence of livestock raiding by lions. Data were analysed at the village and individual level. Livestock losses (cattle, sheep and/or goats) caused by lions differed between villages, ranging from eight to 232 animals per village per year, or 37 to 1115 US$ per livestock owner. At the village and individual level, season and distance to the park boundary were important factors determining the occurrence of livestock losses (R 2 0.81). In villages close to the park attacks occurred irrespective of season and predation was high, and in villages farther from the park attacks mainly occurred during the rainy season and predation was low. Owning a large number of animals and attempting to chase away lions during an attack also increased predation on both village and individual level. At individual level, predation increased with the combined ownership of cattle and sheep and/or goats. Herding methods could be changed to decrease livestock predation, for example herding livestock with mor

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Chemical characterization of milk oligosaccharides of an African lion (Panthera leo) and a clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

The Carnivora include the superfamilies Canoidea and Feloidea. In species of Canoidea other than the domestic dog, Canis lupus, the milk contains only traces of lactose and much larger concentrations of oligosaccharides. In this study, lactose was found to be the dominant saccharide in the milk or colostrum of two species of Feloidea, namely the African lion (Panthera leo) and the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). In addition to lactose, the following oligosaccharides were characterized in the milk of a lion; Neu5Gc(α2-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc (3′-NGc-SL), Fuc(α1-2)Gal(β1-4)Glc (2′-fucosyllactose) and GalNAc(α1-3)[Fuc(α1-2)]Gal(β1-4)Glc (A-tetrasaccharide). The colostrum of a clouded leopard contained 3′-NGc-SL, Gal(α1-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc (isoglobotriose) and A-tetrasaccharide. These oligosaccharides differ in some respects from those previously identified in another species of Feloidea, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). These milks contained 3′-NGc-SL and A-tetrasaccharide, while spotted hyena colostrum did not; however, it contained Neu5Ac(α2-3)Gal(β1-4)Glc (3′-NAc-SL) and Gal(α1-3)[Fuc(α1-2)]Gal(β1-4)Glc (B-tetrasaccharide).

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