Do carnivore surveys match reports of carnivore presence by pastoralists? A case of the eastern Serengeti ecosystem
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGlobal Ecology and Conservation. 2020, 24:e01324 (e01324), 1-9. 10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01324
Human-carnivore encounters are common where humans and wild carnivores share the same landscape. The frequency of such encounters gives insight regarding carnivore density and might correlate with human-carnivore conflict incidences. We interviewed livestock owners in the eastern Serengeti ecosystem and recorded reported carnivore presence and relative abundance. We simultaneously conducted a carnivore survey to assess the potential variability of reported carnivore presence that was recorded during the surveys. The playback surveys attracted 9 lions (Panthera leo), 88 spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) and 47 black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas schmidti) to 12 call-in stations which were resurveyed three times (36 playbacks in total). Reported encounters with lions, leopards (Panthera pardus), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), spotted hyenas, African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and jackals were higher closer to the Serengeti National Park (SNP). Data from carnivore surveys were positively correlated with what people reported in questionnaires. These results indicate that local reports of encounters with wild carnivores may act as an important indicator of carnivore presence. Combining observational data through surveys with data reported by local people in areas where humans and wild carnivores coexist may improve existing data on carnivore abundance and distribution in such areas.