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Effects of trophy hunting leftovers on the ranging behaviour of large carnivores: A case study on spotted hyenas


Cozzi, Gabriele; Börger, Luca; Hutter, Pascale; Abegg, Daniela; Beran, Céline; McNutt, J Weldon; Ozgul, Arpat (2015). Effects of trophy hunting leftovers on the ranging behaviour of large carnivores: A case study on spotted hyenas. PLoS ONE, 10(3):e0121471.

Abstract

Human-related food resources such as garbage dumps and feeding sites have been shown to significantly influence space use, breeding success and population dynamics in a variety of animal species. In contrast, relatively little is known on the effects of unpredictable sources of food, such as carcasses discarded by hunters, on carnivore species. We evaluated the effect of elephant carcasses, mainly deriving from trophy hunting, on the ranging and feeding behavior of spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Using data from hyenas monitored before and during carcass availability via GPS radio-collars and camera traps, we investigated changes in ranging and feeding behavior over time. Carcass availability influenced hyenas’ ranging behavior for an average of 10–12 days, after which their movements returned to patterns observed before carcass availability. In particular, we observed an increased spatial clustering of locations and reduced speeds (up to 15% less) between successive locations with carcass availability. Consistent feeding at carcasses during the first two weeks was typical, and some individuals fed from elephant carcasses for as long as 50 days. The impact and conservation value of hunting are often assessed based solely on the effects on the hunted species. Our results show that hunting remains can influence other species and suggest that such extra food could have important effects on critical life history processes and ultimately population dynamics. We recommend conservationists and wildlife managers evaluate management strategies and hunting practices regarding carcass disposal in order to incorporate the potential collateral impacts of hunting on non-hunted species in the same community.

Human-related food resources such as garbage dumps and feeding sites have been shown to significantly influence space use, breeding success and population dynamics in a variety of animal species. In contrast, relatively little is known on the effects of unpredictable sources of food, such as carcasses discarded by hunters, on carnivore species. We evaluated the effect of elephant carcasses, mainly deriving from trophy hunting, on the ranging and feeding behavior of spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Using data from hyenas monitored before and during carcass availability via GPS radio-collars and camera traps, we investigated changes in ranging and feeding behavior over time. Carcass availability influenced hyenas’ ranging behavior for an average of 10–12 days, after which their movements returned to patterns observed before carcass availability. In particular, we observed an increased spatial clustering of locations and reduced speeds (up to 15% less) between successive locations with carcass availability. Consistent feeding at carcasses during the first two weeks was typical, and some individuals fed from elephant carcasses for as long as 50 days. The impact and conservation value of hunting are often assessed based solely on the effects on the hunted species. Our results show that hunting remains can influence other species and suggest that such extra food could have important effects on critical life history processes and ultimately population dynamics. We recommend conservationists and wildlife managers evaluate management strategies and hunting practices regarding carcass disposal in order to incorporate the potential collateral impacts of hunting on non-hunted species in the same community.

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1 citation in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:20 March 2015
Deposited On:05 Jan 2016 13:23
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:48
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0121471
PubMed ID:25793976
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-117887

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