Research Papers

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Age Assignment to Individual African Lions

Assigning ages to lions (Panthera leo) requires the use of subjective and objective criteria, and is useful for conservation decision-making in that age distributions can be defined from which demographic profiles can be extracted. We collated all age assignment criteria and found that a constraint of most objective criteria is that they require Immobilized or dead specimens to measure. Furthermore, nearly all criteria used lions with assumed ages to construct relationships or narrative descriptions. We show that digital photogrammetry provides digitally-derived measures of shoulder heights similar to that of linearly derived measures. In addition, such shoulder heights did not differ between captive and free ranging lions, or between different regions in Africa. Variation in shoulder height is primarily associated with sex-specific age. Age, using the von Bertalanffy growth curve, explained 92% and 97% of the variation in female and male shoulder height, a skeletal measure not strongly affected by resource availability. Simulations suggest that age assignment is relatively accurate for females and males with shoulder heights up to 70 cm and 95 cm, respectively. Thus for lions younger than two years of age objective criteria gives most precise estimates, while subjective criteria are more suitable for older lions. Key words: African lion, age assignment, growth, shoulder height.

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Sitting on the fence? Policies and practices in managing human-wildlife conflict in Limpopo province, South Africa

Human-wildlife conflicts are the product of socio-economic and political landscapes and are contentious because the resources concerned have economic value and species are often high profile and legally protected. Within a governance framework, we detail institutional roles and the effectiveness of policies and practices of controlling damage-causing animals (DCAs) at Kruger National Park (KNP) and Limpopo Province. Drawing on good governance principles, we offer recommendations on alleviating DCA conflicts

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Use of the upper premolar for age determination of the African lion (Panthera leo) in sub-Saharan Africa, for the purposes of remote monitoring

Conservation agencies in Africa struggle to monitor their wildlife populations due to limited resources such as scientific support and financial constraints. The hunting industry within Africa is a large and lucrative business, yet the ability to monitor this form of utilization and ensure its sustainability is lacking. This research shows how it is possible to develop a remote monitoring center, which can use taxidermies as a source indicator for what is happening within the various hunting areas. By determining the age of death for an individual African lion (Panthera leo), one is able to analyze harvesting trends over time. These trends will act as an indicator as to the sustainability of the hunt. This research developed an aging technique using the upper second premolar of the lion. Morphological, histological and radiographic tooth characteristics were examined and the rate of pulp closure as well as cementum line count proved the best two techniques to use. Two hundred and forty five teeth collected from across sub-Saharan Africa were aged and trends for Tanzania and South Africa over the last two decades were depicted. The conservation implications are encouraging as now one has a method of ensuring that not only are hunts sustainable, but that non-sustainable harvesting is curtailed.

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