No place like home: Africa's big cats show postcode preference

Oct 09, 2009

The secret lives of some of Africa's iconic carnivores, including big cats, are revealed in a new study in Animal Conservation, today.

The results shed light on how different habitats are used by some of Tanzania's most elusive meat eaters, such as the leopard.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) carried out the largest survey of Tanzania's carnivores, using a novel approach making use of over 400 camera trap locations.

The research reveals that many , including the leopard, are particularly fussy about where they live, actively avoiding certain areas. Surprisingly, all the species surveyed tended to avoid croplands, suggesting that habitat conversion to agricultural land could have serious implications for carnivore distribution.

"Camera traps provide a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge on habitat use and spatial distribution of otherwise elusive and poorly known species. This methodology represents a powerful tool that can inform national and site-based wildlife managers and policy makers as well as international agreements on conservation," says Dr Sarah Durant from ZSL.

Until now, many of the species had been under reported because of their nocturnal habits, or because they live in heavily forested areas. The strength of the technique to document habitat preference of elusive species is highlighted by camera trap observations of bushy tailed mongooses - including the first ever records of this species from one of the most visited areas in the country.

These data can also be used to understand how Tanzania's carnivores may respond to habitat changes caused as a result of environmental change.

"Carnivores are generally thought to be relatively tolerant to land conversion, yet our study suggests that they may be more sensitive to development than previously thought, and that protected areas need to be sufficiently large to ensure that these charismatic animals will roam in Tanzania for the decades to come,' says Dr Nathalie Pettorelli from ZSL.

She adds: "All species were affected by rivers and habitat, and the analysis provides important information relevant to the examination of future impacts of climate change."

The project continues to map carnivore distribution across the country, working closely with the wildlife authorities to support local conservationists and to generate information that is used to inform conservation planning.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Explore further: Technology tracks the elusive Nightjar

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Photos reveal Myanmar's large and small predators

Sep 09, 2008

Using remote camera traps to lift the veil on Myanmar's dense northern wild lands, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have painstakingly gathered a bank of valuable data on the country's populations ...

Africa's least-known carnivore in Tanzania

Dec 21, 2006

[B]Mongoose is one more rare find in the mountains of Southern Tanzania[/B] The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that a camera-trap study in the mountains of Southern Tanzania has now rec ...

Rare mongoose found in Tanzania

Dec 22, 2006

The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that a camera-trap study in the mountains of Southern Tanzania has now recorded Africa’s least-known and probably rarest carnivore: ...

Newly discovered monkey is threatened with extinction

Jul 28, 2008

Just three years after it was discovered, a new species of monkey is threatened with extinction according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which recently published the first-ever census of the endangered primate. Known ...

Philandering female felines forgo fidelity

May 31, 2007

[B]Cheetah study reveals many litters have more than one father[/B] While promiscuity in the animal kingdom is generally a male thing, researchers for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London (ZS ...

Recommended for you

Seals forage at offshore wind farms

16 hours ago

By using sophisticated GPS tracking to monitor seals' every movement, researchers have shown for the first time that some individuals are repeatedly drawn to offshore wind farms and pipelines. Those man-made ...

Study provides insights into birds' migration routes

18 hours ago

By tracking hybrids between songbird species, investigators have found that migration routes are under genetic control and could be preventing interbreeding. The research, which is published in Ecology Le ...

Technology tracks the elusive Nightjar

20 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bioacoustic recorders could provide us with vital additional information to help us protect rare and endangered birds such as the European nightjar, new research has shown.

User comments : 0