Journal of Ethology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 285–298 | Cite as

Partitioning of space, habitat, and timing of activity by large felids in an enclosed South African system

  • Bogdan CristescuEmail author
  • Ric T. F. Bernard
  • Jens Krause


Reintroductions of large carnivores into enclosed reserves that confine movements may fail due to intensive intra-guild interspecific conflict. To assess conflict potential, in winter 2006 we used direct observations aided by radio-tracking to focally monitor continuously one female cheetah with cub (Acinonyx jubatus), a female leopard (Panthera pardus), and a lion pride (Panthera leo) at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Home ranges of all individuals/social groups overlapped, whereas core areas had little overlap. The cheetah core area had no overlap with the lion core area, with lion avoidance also recorded for a radio-tracked single female cheetah and a male leopard. The female cheetah with cub selected thicket habitat which was avoided by lions, the latter preferring naturally revegetated areas that were also selected by the female leopard. Lions also selected low elevations, which were avoided by the smaller felids. Habitat preference differences occurred at study area and home range levels, suggesting a broad-scale feline avoidance strategy to minimize intra-guild conflict. In addition, the focally monitored cheetah and leopard were often stationary when the lions were active, especially during nocturnal lion hunts. These intra-guild mechanisms of reintroduced carnivore coexistence should be tested with longer-term studies across enclosed systems of different sizes, and hosting varying carnivore guilds.


Activity budgeting Cheetah Competition Habitat Home range Leopard Lion Winter 



We thank the manager of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, and Shamwari ecologist John O’Brien for allowing this study to happen. We also thank the rangers in Shamwari and Shamwari Wildlife Department for logistical support throughout the study. B.C. is grateful to Dr. Steve Compton, University of Leeds, for providing key contacts in the planning phase of the study. Matt Hayward and anonymous referees provided constructive review that greatly improved this manuscript. B.C. held a Marie Curie Fellowship at the European Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research (BIOCONS), University of Leeds.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 201 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bogdan Cristescu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ric T. F. Bernard
    • 3
  • Jens Krause
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.School of BiologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.CW-405, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Zoology and Entomology, Wildlife and Reserve Management Research GroupRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany

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