M. Beukes, F. G. T. Radloff, S. M. Ferreira
Journal of Zoology
Information on large carnivore diet composition is important when conservationists seek to address stressors such as habitat encroachment, bush meat trade and retribution killing on the persistence of populations. Detailed diet sampling approaches can contribute to effective conservation management. We compare different approaches including GPS cluster analysis, scat analysis and opportunistic observations and describe lion diet profiles in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP). We determined that a sample size of between 65–69 lion feeding events out of 278 found by GPS cluster analysis and 55–59 lion scats out of 189 samples can provide a representative description of lion diet in the KTP. Our opportunistic observations (n = 52) were found to be too few for robust deductions. Scat analysis yielded the highest prey diversity (n = 11) and best representation of prey <50 kg, but required 160 scats at ~ 263 km driven per scat collected. GPS cluster analysis provided good information for large prey, but underrepresented prey <50 kg. Kill remains were found at only 37% of the investigated GPS cluster points (n = 823). Even so, GPS cluster analysis yielded diet descriptions quicker than scat analyses. The use of GPS cluster and scat analysis in tandem is recommended for the estimation of lion diet in this arid environment.