An empirical and experimental test of risk and costs of kleptoparasitism for African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) inside and outside a protected area
The energetic output of hunting African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) is extremely high. Therefore, survival and reproductive success depend not only on the ability to secure prey but also on minimizing foraging costs. African wild dogs often coexist with lions (Panthera leo) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta); these competitors can seriously increase foraging costs by kleptoparasitism. In this study, we empirically and experimentally assessed the risk and costs of kleptoparasitism for African wild dogs inside Hwange National Park, where hyena densities are high, and outside the park, where hyena densities are lower. Lion densities within the study area have been fluctuating. The risk and costs of kleptoparasitism were determined by comparing direct observations during hunt follows of radio collared African wild dog packs and by the use of experimental call-ups with African wild dog sounds inside and outside Hwange National Park. The risk of kleptoparasitism was found to be significantly higher inside the park. The time it took lions and hyenas to get to the kill site during African wild dog hunts was longer outside the park allowing the dogs a longer carcass access time. The found differences in risk and costs of kleptoparasitism could contribute to African wild dog habitat choice for the buffer zone outside Hwange National Park. As habitat choice in and around protected areas is often related to the possibility of exposure to an "edge effect," interspecific competition should be considered in the conservation strategy of African wild dogs. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.
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Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
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