The Role of Social Behaviour in Carnivore Reintroductions
Somers, Michael J.
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Reintroductions are becoming increasingly important in conservation management, particularly for large carnivores. Despite an increase in our understanding of carnivore social behaviour, wildlife managers often disregard this knowledge when reintroducing animals—largely owing to behavioural ecology and reintroduction biology rarely being unified in the literature or in graduate conservation management programmes. Here, we combine these two disciplines and outline the importance of considering aspects of social behaviour when reintroducing large carnivores. We identify two time periods of particular relevance: the time in temporary captivity before release and the period immediately after release. Prior to release, group composition of the animals to be released is important to promote social compatibility. After release, Allee effects arising from difficulty in finding suitable mates emerge as one of the most important constraints in some large-carnivore reintroduction programmes. In our view, incorporating considerations of social behaviour in conservation management would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of costly (carnivore) reintroduction programmes.
- RESEARCH: Somers M