Landscape correlates of space use in the critically endangered African wild dog Lycaon pictus

PLoS One. 2019 Mar 22;14(3):e0212621. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212621. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

Human-carnivore conflict can threaten human life and livelihoods, leading to retaliation that negatively affects carnivore conservation. The endangered African wild dog Lycaon pictus is prone to human-carnivore conflict. Therefore, it is imperative to understand which landscape features are associated with African wild dog occurrence since selection or avoidance of these features could predict the levels of conflict. We investigated resource selection in the African wild dog in relation to four anthropogenic landscape features (livestock density, agriculture, roads and human land use) within the landscape that may pose a mortality risk, as well as one natural feature (nature reserves). We compared spatio-temporal space use patterns of four African wild dog packs in north-eastern South Africa. Data were collected from one collared individual per pack. These packs constituted approximately 10% of the total remaining African wild dog population in South Africa. Two packs occurred outside of the Kruger National Park and had access to multiple areas with farmland and other anthropogenic features, whereas the remaining two packs mainly occurred within the boundaries of the Kruger National Park but made occasional forays outside of park boundaries. Utilising Resource Selection Functions and GIS analyses, we found that agricultural landscape features, roads and nature reserves were important predictors of African wild dog occurrence for all four packs. In addition to potential conflict with farmers, high odds of occurrence on roads with fast-moving traffic and road mortality was highlighted as a concern for three of the packs. While farms and areas that house livestock were readily available, pack presence occurred in areas with few farms and low livestock densities, pointing to avoidance of areas where human-carnivore conflict and resulting mortality could occur. Our study highlights potential threats to the persistence of the African wild dog, which can be used to inform future conservation efforts of the species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canidae / physiology*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Endangered Species*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • South Africa

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7291085
  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7296572

Grant support

Please note that funding for this study was provided by the National Research Foundation (Thuthuka programme, grant number: TTK20110815000024620) URL:http://www.nrf.ac.za/content/thuthuka-2018 and the Department of Higher Education and Training, South Africa.