Predators and pastoralists: how anthropogenic pressures inside wildlife areas influence carnivore space use and movement behaviour

F. Broekhuis*, E.K. Madsen, B. Klaassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Across the globe, wildlife populations and their behaviours are negatively impacted by people. Protected areas are believed to be an antidote to increasing human pressures but even they are not immune to the impact of anthropogenic activities. Areas that have been set aside for the protection of wildlife therefore warrant more attention when investigating the impact of anthropogenic pressures on wildlife. We use cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus as a case study to explore how a large carnivore responds to anthropogenic pressures inside wildlife areas. Using GPS-collar data we investigate cheetah space use, both when moving and stationary, and movement parameters (speed and turn angles) in relation to human disturbance, distance to human settlement, livestock abundance and livestock site use inside wildlife areas. Space use was negatively influenced by human disturbance, resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation and potentially reducing landscape permeability between neighbouring wildlife areas. Cheetahs were also less likely to stop in areas where livestock numbers were high, but more likely to stop in areas that were frequently used by livestock. The latter could reflect that cheetahs are attracted to livestock however, cheetahs in the study area rarely predated on livestock. It is therefore more likely that areas that are frequently used by livestock attract wild herbivores, which in turn could influence cheetah space use. We did not find any effects of people and livestock on cheetahs’ speed and turn angles which might be related to the resolution of the data. We found that cheetahs are sensitive to human pressures and we believe that they could be an indicator species for other large carnivores facing similar challenges. We suggest that further research is needed to determine the levels of anthropogenic pressures needed to maintain ecological integrity, especially inside wildlife areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-416
Number of pages13
JournalAnimal Conservation
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cheetah
  • human pressure
  • livestock
  • movement
  • protected areas
  • space use

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