Subsidient: Rohan Wadhwa/Wageningen University
Subsidy: S20.1-61

Carnivore conservation is an overarching global priority. Reliable population estimates are the cornerstones for effective conservation. This study estimates the densities of brown hyenas, spotted hyenas and leopards in the Tuli Block, Botswana with spatially explicit capture recapture models. This paper estimates 10.5 brown hyenas per 100km2, which is amongst the highest densities ever reported in an open reserve. As interspecific competition is a major determinant of population densities and dynamics, we studied this phenomenon between brown hyenas and the more dominant leopards and spotted hyenas. Therefore, we looked for patterns of spatial and/or temporal avoidance between the carnivores. Spatial interactions were analyzed using single-season two-species occupancy modelling that found a pattern of spatial co-existence instead of avoidance. To study temporal interactions, we used the Kernel density method to ascertain the coefficient of overlap between temporal activities of the carnivores that also resulted in a high overlap coefficient. Since brown hyenas benefit from the presence for larger carnivores due to increased carrion availability, they tend to co-occur with leopards and spotted hyenas in both space and time. This study presents the first density estimate of brown hyenas in Central Tuli Block. It shows that brown hyenas, leopards and spotted hyenas are capable of co-existing in high densities given a suitable carnivore assemblage and range of habitat characteristics. I recommend the use of SECR for conducting bi-annual density estimations in the area and further research into the role of habitat characteristics such as koppies on the interaction between the carnivores.