The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia

 

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dc.contributor.advisor O'Riain, Justin en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Hunter, Luke T B en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Balme, Guy A en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Midlane, Neil en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2014-11-07T09:20:11Z
dc.date.available 2014-11-07T09:20:11Z
dc.date.issued 2014 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Midlane, N. 2014. The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/9308
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract The abundance of African lions Panthera leo has declined rapidly in recent decades, largely due to competition for space with growing human populations. The future persistence of the species in the wild therefore depends heavily on viable populations in large protected areas, where lions play key ecological and economic roles. Zambia is one of nine countries estimated to have over 1000 wild lions, and Kafue, its largest national park, is a key refuge for the species. In this thesis I aimed to address the paucity of management and conservation relevant data on Kafue's lion population. I first used a track-based occupancy survey to determine the broad-scale drivers of lion distribution in the park. My results did not support my a priori expectations of anthropogenic edge effects driving lion occupancy; instead favourable habitat emerged as the best predictor of dry season lion distribution. The lack of edge effects is likely a result of the uniform suppressive effect on prey biomass of ubiquitous illegal bushmeat hunting in Kafue. After using my occupancy results to stratify my study area, I tested the effectiveness and efficiency of two well-established survey methods, track counts and call-up surveys, by comparing the resulting density estimates with that of a reference sample of GPS-collared lions in the study area. Accuracy of the two results was comparable, but the call-up estimate was more precise. However, call-up surveys are subject to variation in response rates that is difficult to quantify. I thus recommend that track count surveys are more suitable for monitoring lion population trends in Kafue. I further provide the first robust density estimate for northern Kafue of 1.83 lions (>1yr old) per 100 km2. Understanding how animals use space is fundamental to their conservation. I therefore used GPS collars to investigate lion spatial ecology at a finer scale, and the effects thereon of the seasonal flooding of large parts of Kafue. Home range sizes were comparable to those of other lion populations in the region. However, seasonal inundation caused lions to expand home ranges, travel greater distances and shift away from favourable habitat in the wet season, potentially contributing to apparent high cub mortality rates. The combination of these factors may limit the resilience of the population in the face of identified local anthropogenic threats (i.e. illegal hunting of ungulates and lions, legal trophy hunting of lions and frequent, uncontrolled bushfires). I provide both direct and indirect evidence of such threats, and conclude that lion abundance in Kafue is limited primarily by the suppressed prey population, while the extent and regularity of bushfires may also have adverse effects. I recommend stronger enforcement of existing regulations pertaining to illegal hunting and fires, and the implementation of recently developed monitoring software to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of limited law enforcement resources. I further conclude that lion hunting quotas were excessive prior to the 2013 ban on hunting in Zambia, and suggest that the ban remain in place for at least three years to enable adequate recovery of the population. If the Zambian government elects to lift the ban, I propose a total combined quota of 5.25 lions per annum for the hunting concessions surrounding Kafue. I further recommend the implementation of strict age-based regulations within a robust adaptive management framework, based on the best available scientific data, to ensure the sustainability of harvest. To evaluate the effectiveness of such management interventions I propose long-term monitoring of lion abundance and distribution in Kafue using annual track count surveys. This study highlights that even the largest of Africa's national parks cannot ensure the survival of flagship apex carnivores. My findings and recommendations may be applicable to other wild lion populations in large protected areas where data paucity limits management effectiveness. Understanding and managing threats to these protected areas at the appropriate scale is critical if they are to meet their conservation objectives and ultimately ensure the persistence of wild lion populations. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.title The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia en_ZA
dc.type Doctoral Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Science en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Biological Sciences en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Midlane, N. (2014). <i>The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/9308 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Midlane, Neil. <i>"The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/9308 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Midlane N. The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences, 2014 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/9308 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Midlane, Neil AB - The abundance of African lions Panthera leo has declined rapidly in recent decades, largely due to competition for space with growing human populations. The future persistence of the species in the wild therefore depends heavily on viable populations in large protected areas, where lions play key ecological and economic roles. Zambia is one of nine countries estimated to have over 1000 wild lions, and Kafue, its largest national park, is a key refuge for the species. In this thesis I aimed to address the paucity of management and conservation relevant data on Kafue's lion population. I first used a track-based occupancy survey to determine the broad-scale drivers of lion distribution in the park. My results did not support my a priori expectations of anthropogenic edge effects driving lion occupancy; instead favourable habitat emerged as the best predictor of dry season lion distribution. The lack of edge effects is likely a result of the uniform suppressive effect on prey biomass of ubiquitous illegal bushmeat hunting in Kafue. After using my occupancy results to stratify my study area, I tested the effectiveness and efficiency of two well-established survey methods, track counts and call-up surveys, by comparing the resulting density estimates with that of a reference sample of GPS-collared lions in the study area. Accuracy of the two results was comparable, but the call-up estimate was more precise. However, call-up surveys are subject to variation in response rates that is difficult to quantify. I thus recommend that track count surveys are more suitable for monitoring lion population trends in Kafue. I further provide the first robust density estimate for northern Kafue of 1.83 lions (>1yr old) per 100 km2. Understanding how animals use space is fundamental to their conservation. I therefore used GPS collars to investigate lion spatial ecology at a finer scale, and the effects thereon of the seasonal flooding of large parts of Kafue. Home range sizes were comparable to those of other lion populations in the region. However, seasonal inundation caused lions to expand home ranges, travel greater distances and shift away from favourable habitat in the wet season, potentially contributing to apparent high cub mortality rates. The combination of these factors may limit the resilience of the population in the face of identified local anthropogenic threats (i.e. illegal hunting of ungulates and lions, legal trophy hunting of lions and frequent, uncontrolled bushfires). I provide both direct and indirect evidence of such threats, and conclude that lion abundance in Kafue is limited primarily by the suppressed prey population, while the extent and regularity of bushfires may also have adverse effects. I recommend stronger enforcement of existing regulations pertaining to illegal hunting and fires, and the implementation of recently developed monitoring software to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of limited law enforcement resources. I further conclude that lion hunting quotas were excessive prior to the 2013 ban on hunting in Zambia, and suggest that the ban remain in place for at least three years to enable adequate recovery of the population. If the Zambian government elects to lift the ban, I propose a total combined quota of 5.25 lions per annum for the hunting concessions surrounding Kafue. I further recommend the implementation of strict age-based regulations within a robust adaptive management framework, based on the best available scientific data, to ensure the sustainability of harvest. To evaluate the effectiveness of such management interventions I propose long-term monitoring of lion abundance and distribution in Kafue using annual track count surveys. This study highlights that even the largest of Africa's national parks cannot ensure the survival of flagship apex carnivores. My findings and recommendations may be applicable to other wild lion populations in large protected areas where data paucity limits management effectiveness. Understanding and managing threats to these protected areas at the appropriate scale is critical if they are to meet their conservation objectives and ultimately ensure the persistence of wild lion populations. DA - 2014 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2014 T1 - The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia TI - The conservation status and dynamics of a protected African lion Panthera leo population in Kafue National Park, Zambia UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/9308 ER - en_ZA


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