Functional responses of retaliatory killing versus recreational sport hunting of leopards in South Africa
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Predation strategies in response to altering prey abundances can dramatically influence the demographic effects of predation. Despite this, predation strategies of humans are rarely incorporated into quantitative assessments of the demographic impacts of humans killing carnivores. This scarcity largely seems to be caused by a lack of data. In this study, we contrasted predation strategies exhibited by people involved in retaliatory killing and recreational sport hunting of leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg District Municipality, South Africa. We predicted a specialist predation strategy exemplified by a type II functional response for retaliatory killing, and a generalist strategy exemplified by a type III functional response for recreational sport hunting. We could not distinguish between a type I, a type II, or a type III functional response for retaliatory killing, but the most parsimonious model for recreational sport hunting corresponded to a type I functional response. Kill rates were consistently higher for retaliatory killing than for recreational sport hunting. Our results indicate that retaliatory killing of leopards may have severe demographic consequences for leopard populations, whereas the demographic consequences of recreational sport hunting likely are less dramatic.
- RESEARCH: Somers M