Our large Carnivore research is conducted at two primary sites, i.e. Madikwe Game Reserve and Pilansberg National park. Our study species include brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea), spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), leopard (Panthera pardus), and lion (Panthera leo). Our studies consider density assessments, occupancy modelling and movement data, diet and dietary competition, social behaviour, stress assessments, and prey population trends. We use a wide variety of methods, determining the most effective methods for the study sites, these methods include baited and non-baited camera trap surveys, sound playbacks/call-ups, ad hock observations, fixed road transect counts, faecal analysis, GPS/VHF collar data and the corresponding statistical analyses.
South Africa extensively make use of fenced reserves as a conservation tool. However there are still large deficits in the understanding of the potential implications closed systems can have on large carnivores, on a management level and a species conservation level. large carnivores are typically wide ranging and highly territorial, fenced systems limit dispersal and force carnivores into a constant landscape of competition which could reach detrimental levels if not properly understood and managed.
We aim to provide insight into how fenced systems affect population trends, social dynamics, stress levels, interspecific competition, and intraspecific competition. Our research is used as a tool to promote thriving and well adapted ecosystems within fenced reserves, by providing a baseline of consistent data and assessments which are easily repeated throughout Southern Africa.