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The ecology of cheetahs and other large carnivores in a pastoralist-dominated buffer zone

Maddox, Thomas Miles; (2003) The ecology of cheetahs and other large carnivores in a pastoralist-dominated buffer zone. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Due to the various limitations of core-protected areas, interest in semi-protected landscapes and the human-wildlife interactions that occur within them is rapidly gaining credence. Some of the most important issues within this field are human-carnivore relationships, with many large carnivores globally threatened on one hand but with the capability of potentially devastating impacts on humans on the other. In this thesis, the success of cheetahs, their competitors and their predators in two buffer zones (Loliondo and Ngorongoro) of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was examined in comparison with populations living inside the park. The potential role played in carnivore ecology by the Maasai pastoralists inhabiting the buffer zones was then examined to assess the extent to which their presence determines any of the differences. The results show that large carnivores and their prey are surviving successfully outside the core-protected area, coexisting with the pastoralist Maasai. Herbivores were shown to exist at equivalent diversity and density outside the park, with the two- year average prey biomass significantly higher in Loliondo than inside the park (Χ^2_2= 49, p<0.001). The only species consistently more abundant inside the park were kongoni, topi and warthog. However, temporal variation was large and the system was better described as a single, dynamic entity rather than three distinct and comparable sites. Study sites outside the park also held substantial populations of all large carnivore species. Densities of both common jackal species were higher outside the park, hyaena estimates were higher inside the park and there was no significant difference between lion estimates (Χ^2_2=0.4, NS). Lion density in Loliondo was estimated at 0.37 lions / km2, a density comparable with most protected areas. Cheetah data were limited but showed a substantial population outside the park. Several carnivore estimation methods were used in the study, and comparison of the results showed that the visual-based surveys commonly used elsewhere (line transects or driven indices) were highly limited outside protected areas. Little behavioural variation was shown in cheetahs between individuals inside and outside the park (effect of region on time spent relaxed: F5,65=0.09, NS). Both cheetahs and lions showed strong reactions to playbacks of Maasai cattle, however responses were mixed with only lions outside the park showing a consistent increase in vigilance (T9 = -2.72, p<0.05). The role of Maasai was investigated through questionnaires. Their answers showed large carnivores to be a major part of their environmental perceptions, with lions, hyaenas and leopards receiving the top salience scores, although cheetahs were not due to a lack of differentiation between the spotted cats. General attitudes were positive, particularly in Ngorongoro, but attitudes towards large carnivores were mostly negative. Costs of coexistence were significant for both sides; livestock predation was experienced by 89% of Loliondo respondents and 63% of Ngorongoro respondents, with predators accounting for 1% of cattle herds and 3% of sheep and goats, although disease accounted for far higher. Human injuries were also reported, although most (70% in Loliondo and 50% in Ngorongoro) occurred through lion hunts. The lion hunt is still an important part of Maasai culture, with over 75% of respondents reporting having attended at least one. Based on average estimates from respondents and age group leaders, 30-40 lions are thought to be ritually killed in the entire Maasai area (including Kenya) each year. However, although the relationship between the Maasai and carnivores is far from harmonious, coexistence is continuing thanks to semi-tolerant attitudes, restrictions on hunting impacts and preventative livestock management systems.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The ecology of cheetahs and other large carnivores in a pastoralist-dominated buffer zone
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Serengeti National Park
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100000
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