Thermal niches of lions and their prey: how heat and cooling affects their interaction

H.H.T. Prins, W.F. de Boer, C. van Vliet, R. de Boer, S. de Bie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


By implanting thermal loggers deep in the body cavities of lions, eland antelopes, wildebeest and impala in a hot (up to 48°C) and arid (~ 300 mm p.a.) savanna system with cold winters (minimally 4°C at night) in the northern border area of South Africa, we have measured core body temperatures over the day for a number of months. Temperature measurements were sent every 20 minutes to a receiver in a neck collar, from which they were transferred by cell-phone (in case of the lions) or satellite. Antelopes and lions warmed up considerably during the day but the antelopes started shedding heat immediately after sunset, reaching a minimum body temperature just before sunrise. Lions decreased their temperature several hours later: they maintained optimal temperatures for explosive power output when antelopes had lost theirs. The antelopes’ thermal strategy appear to be aimed at minimizing water loss, giving their predators an advantage. The research has clear implications for the water point closure policy, since for different species of antelope the interaction between thermal strategy and water use is ‘played out’ differently.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication12th Savanna Science Network Meeting, Kruger National Park
PublisherSANPark's Scientific Services
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event12th Savanna Science Network Meeting, Skukuza, South Africa -
Duration: 10 Mar 201414 Mar 2014


Conference12th Savanna Science Network Meeting, Skukuza, South Africa


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