Home range establishment and utilization by reintroduced lions (Panthera leo) in a small South African wildlife reserve

Integr Zool. 2017 Jul;12(4):318-332. doi: 10.1111/1749-4877.12243.


Understanding of animal spatial behavior is essential for informed management decisions. In southern Africa, reintroduction of lions (Panthera leo) to small reserves (<1000 km2 ) has increased since the early 2000s, however studies on their ranging behavior in these enclosed systems remain lacking. We applied Time Local Convex Hull (T-LoCoH) methods to study the home range establishment and utilization of 11 lions reintroduced to Dinokeng Game Reserve, South Africa, during 2011 through 2014. Lions established home ranges close to their release sites and during the following 3 years their home range sizes continued to increase, but in each individual case the size remained smaller than half of the reserve area (<70 km2 ). Space use strategies differed between the core and the entire home range, with higher frequency of visits found in core areas. Exceptionally high rates (>60 separate visits) around the largest dam and along rivers suggest the importance of water and its surrounding vegetation in the lions' space utilization pattern. The home range size did not differ with season or sex of the individuals, whereas shifts in locations of home ranges revealed differences in the response of the 2 sexes to territorial conflicts and management interventions. Our study shows a dynamic home range utilization pattern and highlights the importance of both fine-scale space use patterns (frequency and duration of visits) and broad-scale home range changes in understanding the ranging behavior of reintroduced animals.

Keywords: T-LoCoH; carnivore; movement; space use; utilization distribution.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Southern
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Female
  • Homing Behavior*
  • Lions*
  • Male
  • South Africa