Research Papers

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Inbreeding depression increases susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis in lions: an experimental test using an inbred-outbred contrast through translocation.

Disease can dramatically influence the dynamics of endangered wildlife populations, especially when they are small and isolated, with increased risk of inbreeding. In Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), a small, enclosed reserve in South Africa, a large lion (Panthera leo) population arose from a small founder group in the 1960s and started showing conspicuous signs of inbreeding. To restore the health status of the HiP lion population, outbred lions were translocated into the existing population. In this study, we determined the susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis (bTB), and the prevalence of antibody to feline viruses of native lions, and compared the findings with those from translocated outbred lions and their offspring. Antibodies to feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, feline parvovirus, and feline coronavirus were present in the lion population, but there was no significant difference in antibody prevalence between native and translocated lions and their offspring, and these feline viruses did not appear to have an effect on the clinical health of HiP lions. However, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which was previously absent from HiP, appears to have been introduced into the lion population through translocation. Within 7 yr, the prevalence of antibody to FIV increased up to 42%. Bovine tuberculosis posed a major threat to the inbred native lion population, but not to translocated lions and their offspring. More than 30% of the native lion population died from bTB or malnutrition compared with

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Lion density and population structure in the Selous Game Reserve: evaluation of hunting quotas and offtake

In 1992, tourist hunting in the Selous Game Reserve generated 1.28 million dollars for the Tanzanian government, of which 0·96 million dollars were returned to wildlife conservation. Lions (Panthera leo) are one of three critical species for tourist hunting, consistently generating 12%–13% of hunting revenue from 1988 to 1992. Because of their ecological and economic importance (and intrinsic value), it is important that lion quotas be set so that offtake is sustainable. The population density of lions in Selous ranges from 0·08 to 0·13 adults km−2, comparable to unhunted ecosystems. The adult sex ratio (36–41% male) and the ratio of cubs to adults (29% cubs) are similar to those of unhunted populations. The ratio of lions to hyaenas is lower in heavily hunted areas (0·17 lions/hyena) than in unhunted areas (0·43 lions/hyena). Hunting levels between 1989 and 1994 took 2·7–4·3% of adult males annually, which is sustainable. The current quota is 10–16% of the adult male population, which exceeds natural mortality rates for male lions. To remain stable if the quota was filled, the population would have to compensate via increased fecundity, increased juvenile survival, or an altered sex-ratio. Compensation occurs in Selous by producing (or raising) more male than female cubs (66–81% of juveniles are male). Only 28% of the Selous quota was filled in 1992. The percentage of quota filled (both in Selous and nationwide) has dropped since 1988 as quotas have increased. The current intensity of lion hunting in Selous is sustainable, but the quota cannot be filled sustainably.

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Methods for Locating African Lion Kills Using Global Positioning System Movement Data

Knowledge of the range, behavior, and feeding habits of large carnivores is fundamental to their successful conservation. Traditionally, the best method to obtain feeding data is through continuous observation, which is not always feasible. Reliable automated methods are needed to obtain sample sizes sufficient for statistical inference. Identification of large carnivore kill sites using Global Positioning System (GPS) data is gaining popularity. We assessed performance of generalized linear regression models (GLM) versus classification trees (CT) in a multipredator, multiprey African savanna ecosystem. We applied GLMs and CTs to various combinations of distance-traveled data, cluster durations, and environmental factors to predict occurrence of 234 female African lion (Panthera leo) kill sites from 1,477 investigated GPS clusters. Ratio of distance moved 24 hours before versus 24 hours after a cluster was the most important predictor variable in both GLM and CT analysis. In all cases, GLMs outperformed our cost-complexity-pruned CTs in their discriminative ability to separate kill from nonkill sites. Generalized linear models provided a good framework for kill-site identification that incorporates a hierarchal ordering of cluster investigation and measures to assess trade-offs between classification accuracy and time constraints. Implementation of GLMs within an adaptive sampling framework can considerably increase efficiency of locating kill sites, providing a cost-effective method for increasing sample sizes of kill data.

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