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African lion (Panthera leo) behavior, monitoring, and survival in human-dominated landscapes Popular

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African lion (Panthera leo) behavior, monitoring, and survival in human-dominated landscapes
Stephanie Dolrenry

2013

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

ABSTRACT

Chapter I, “Demography of a persecuted African lion population,” investigates the basic demographic characteristics of a lion population on human and livestock dominated lands where unregulated, retaliatory hunting of both sexes and all ages has occurred for centuries. I also examine the individual characteristics of stock-raiding lions.

In Chapter II, “Participatory monitoring of an elusive carnivore on community lands,” I test the inclusion of local communities in wildlife monitoring and conservation, i.e. participatory monitoring, as a method for collecting data on large carnivores in human dominated landscapes. Standard wildlife biology methods that are effective in protected areas with large populations of ‘tame’ lions may be of limited use where carnivores are persecuted, often occur at low densities, and are elusive and nocturnal.

In Chapter III, “Lion occupancy of pastoral communities in Maasailand, Kenya,” I apply a novel approach of multi-strata occupancy models on two spatial scales to test theories of large carnivore and human interactions, to understand the factors that determine whether or not lions use Maasai settlements and to elucidate factors which may inform management strategies to reduce lion incursions into pastoral settlement. Since persecuted carnivores are notoriously difficult to detect reliably, particularly when in proximity to human settlement, I also examine two detection methods to compare associated detection probabilities. I consider two site covariates, distance to protected area and density of homesteads, to predict lion occupancy of Maasai settlement.

Due to anthropogenic pressures, lion populations are increasingly limited to fragmented populations, primarily associated with protected areas. In Chapter IV “A metapopulation analysis of African lion populations across Kenya and Tanzania,” I use a spatially explicit metapopulation model to investigate how sex-biased dispersal abilities of lions affect patch occupancy across Kenya and Tanzania. I also examine whether human densities surrounding the remaining lion populations affect the metapopulation as a whole.

These four chapters each contribute to a deeper understanding of the lions that prey on livestock, move amongst human homesteads and survive despite centuries of persecution. I investigate the lion’s ability to survive in a landscape of anthropogenic threats and contribute to broader conservation theories and practices for conserving this most iconic of animals.