Diet determination of the Cape Mountain leopards using global positioning system location clusters and scat analysis

Quinton E Martins, W. G. C. Horsnell, W. Titus, T. Rautenbach, Stephen Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Studying leopards Panthera pardus in mountainous regions is challenging and
there is little ecological information on their behaviour in these habitats. We used data from global positioning system (GPS) radio-collared leopards in conjunction with leopard scat analysis to identify key aspects of leopard feeding habits in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. We located 53 leopard kill/feeding sites from clustered GPS locations of Z4 h and analysed 93 leopard scats. Both methods showed that klipspringers Oreotragus oreotragus and rock hyraxes Procavia capensis were the most common prey. GPS location clusters showed that the time leopards spent at a given location was positively related both to the
probability of detecting prey remains and to prey size. Leopards made significantly
more large kills in winter than summer (P=0.003); there was no significant
difference between male and female leopards in the average number of large kills or the average time spent at large kill sites. We show that, when studying large carnivores in inaccessible areas, it is important to use a combination of techniques
to understand their feeding ecology and that GPS locations can be used to provide an accurate measure of diet even when small prey are being taken.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81–87
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Zoology
Volume283
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • leopard; Panthera pardus; GPS; diet; location cluster analysis; depredation on livestock

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