Anthropogenic Impacts on the Social Structure and Behaviour of Impala (Aepyceros melampus) Populations in Areas of Different Land Use - A case study from the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania
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- Institutt for biologi 
The impact of anthropogenic disturbance on wildlife populations in protected areas as vital for management regulations and conservation efforts. Knowledge of how different human activities might impact social structure and behaviour of wildlife is important for the further existence of species in exploited areas. In this study the impacts of human disturbance on impala (Aepyceros melampus) populations in the Serengeti Ecosystem were explored. Data on sex ratio, group size, reproduction, behaviour and synchronization on behaviour was collected from Serengeti National Park and adjacent protected areas. Results showed that the sex ratio was more skewed towards females, and the group size was lower in Loliondo Game Controlled Area compared to Serengeti National Park. Additionally, fewer groups with calves were observed in Loliondo Game Controlled Area compared to all other areas. Furthermore, animals showed more vigilance behaviour in Loliondo Game Controlled Area and in Grumeti Game Reserve compared to Serengeti National Park. Synchronization of behaviour did not differ between the areas. These findings suggest that sex ratio, group size, reproduction and behaviour might be used as indicators of how much a protected area is disturbed. When altered, these factors have several potential negative effects on impala population dynamics. This study suggests that human settlement and associated disturbance, in addition to both legal and illegal hunting, are the major factors affecting social structure and behaviour of impala populations in protected areas. Continuous studies on social structure and behaviour are needed to see the long-term effects of human disturbance and hunting on wildlife populations in the Serengeti Ecosystem.