Estimating abundance, density, and occupancy of lion, leopard and serval in the Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal
Kane, Mamadou Daha
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Carnivore are undoubtedly among the most threatened of the mammal species in Africa because of the low density at which they occur and their large home range requirements that do not match with human propensity to develop and alter wildlife habitat. However, the degree of threat is unevenly distributed within the continent, with western and central African carnivores being the most threatened and the least studied. I estimated population size, density, and proportion of area occupied in relation to environmental factors of one medium-size (serval – Leptailurus serval) and two large carnivores (lion – Panthera leo and leopard – P. pardus) in the Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal, West Africa, using remote camera surveys and both traditional (CR), spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) techniques for servals and leopards, and non-spatial (MR) and spatial mark resight (SMR) methods for lions. Lions selected optimal sites with both high tree density and prey activity; leopards occupied areas with high tree density but with less prey activity; and servals selected habitats with more dense canopy cover where leopards were absent. The presence of lions was favorable to serval presence, as we presume leopards avoid lions, although we did not have strong evidence to support it. Moreover, the half mean maximum distance moved (½ MMDM) method under CR methods appeared to overestimate leopard and serval density while full MMDM estimates were close to SECR methods density estimates. For lions, both ½ MMDM and full MMDM methods in MR framework overestimated density whereas the SMR method resulted in more reasonable estimates, especially in light of previous assessments of lion densities in West Africa.. These results are of high importance for conservation and management purposes of the imperiled Niokolo Koba carnivore community.
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