Share This Article:

Spatial and Temporal Habitat Use by GPS Collared Male Cheetahs in Modified Bushland Habitat

Full-Text HTML XML Download Download as PDF (Size:1339KB) PP. 269-280
DOI: 10.4236/ojf.2016.64022    750 Downloads   945 Views  


Cheetahs and other apex predators are threatened by human-wildlife conflict and habitat degradation. Bush encroachment creates one of the biggest forms of habitat change, thus it is important to understand the impact this has on habitat use. We investigated habitat preferences of five male cheetahs in Namibian farmlands degraded by bush encroachment. Cheetahs were tracked using satellite based Global System for Mobile (GSM) collars providing a higher resolution on ranging behavior. We aimed to investigate: 1) habitat characteristics; 2) evidence for habitat selection; 3) temporal activity partitioning; and 4) whether revisits to locations were related to habitat type. There were differences in habitat characteristics, showing that cheetahs were able to utilise different habitats. Fecal pellet counts revealed that warthog, oryx, scrub hare and kudu were most abundant. The cheetahs spent more time in high visibility shrubland, suggesting they selected rewarding patches within predominantly bush-encroached landscapes. The usage in marginal habitat was strikingly influenced by habitat type, with both previously cleared and open vegetated areas showing high proportions in edge use. Individuals exhibited significant temporal activity partitioning, showing peaks between late afternoon and early morning hours. This finding could be key to managing human-wildlife conflict by showing that increased protection such as the use of herders and livestock guarding dogs should be used as mitigation methods to minimize the impact of cheetah specific temporal patterns at all times as defined in this research. Visits to the same locations were not correlated to habitat type; revisits may be dictated by other reasons such as social interaction, prey density or avoidance of other predators. Findings from this study will help build existing knowledge on the effects bush encroachment has on cheetah habitat preference.

Cite this paper

Nghikembua, M. , Harris, J. , Tregenza, T. and Marker, L. (2016) Spatial and Temporal Habitat Use by GPS Collared Male Cheetahs in Modified Bushland Habitat. Open Journal of Forestry, 6, 269-280. doi: 10.4236/ojf.2016.64022.


[1] Barnard, P. (1998). Biological Diversity in Namibia: A Country-Wide Study. Namibian National Biodiversity Task Force Edn, ABC Press, Cape Town.
[2] Ben-Shahar , R. (1992). The Effects of Bush Clearance on African Ungulates in Semi-Arid Nature Reserve. Ecological Applications, 2, 95-101.
[3] Bissett, C., & Bernard, R. T. F. (2007). Habitat Selection and Feeding Ecology of the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in Thicket Vegetation: Is the Cheetah a Savanna Specialist? Journal of Zoology, 271, 310-317.
[4] Brock, A., Nortje, E., & Gaigher, I. (2003). Habitat Preference of a Local Population of Bushbuck in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 33, 131-135.
[5] Broomhall, L. S., Mills, M. G. L., & Toit, J. T. D. (2003). Home Range and Habitat Use by Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Kruger National Park. Journal of Zoology, 261, 119-128.
[6] Brower, J. E., Zar, H. J., & Ende, N. J. V. (1998). Field and Laboratory Methods for General Ecology. California: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
[7] Burke, A. (2006). Savanna Trees in Namibia: Factors Controlling Their Distribution at the Arid End of the Spectrum. Flora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants, 201, 189-201.
[8] Caro, T. (1994). Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living of an Asocial Species. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[9] de Klerk, J. N. (2004). Bush Encroachment in Namibia. Windhoek: Solitaire Press.
[10] Durant, S., Mitchell, N., Ipavec, A., & Groom, R. (2015). Acinonyx jubatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T219A50649567.
[11] Durant, S. M. (1998). Is Bush Country the Key to the Cheetah’s Survival in Africa (pp. 14-15). Cat News: Spring.
[12] Durant, S. M. (2000a). Living with the Enemy: Avoidance of Hyenas and Lions by Cheetahs in the Serengeti. Behavioral Ecology, 11, 624-632.
[13] Durant, S. M. (2000b). Predator Avoidance, Breeding Experience and Reproductive Success in Endangered Cheetahs, Acinonyx jubatus. Animal Behaviour, 60, 121-130.
[14] Durant, S. M., Kelly, M., & Caro, T. M. (2004). Factors Affecting Life and Death in Serengeti Cheetahs: Environment, Age, and Sociality. Behavioral Ecology, 15, 11-22.
[15] Eaton, R. L. (1974). The Cheetah: The biology, Ecology, and Behavior of an Endangered Species. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
[16] Estes, R. (1991). The Behaviour Guide to African Mammals. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
[17] Gros, P. M., & Rejmanek, M. (1999). Status and Habitat Preferences of Uganda Cheetahs: An Attempt to Predict Carnivore Occurrence Based on Vegetation Structure. Biodiversity & Conservation, 8, 1561-1583.
[18] Hayward, M., & Slotow, R. (2009). Temporal Partitioning of Activity in Large African Carnivores: Tests of Multiple Hypotheses. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 39, 109-125.
[19] Hilbert, F., Maillard, D., Fritz, H., Garel, M., Abdou, H., & Winterton, P. (2010). Ageing of Ungulate Pellets in Semi-Arid Landscapes: How the Shade of Colour Can Refine Pellet-Group Counts. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 57, 495-503.
[20] Hooge, P. N., Eichenlaub, W., & Solomon, E. (1999). The Animal Movement Program. Homepage of Alaska Biological Centre.
[21] Jeltsch, F., Milton, S. J., Dean, W. R. J., & Rooyen, N. V. (1997). Analysing Shrub Encroachment in the Southern Kalahari: A Grid-Based Modelling Approach. The Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 1497-1508.
[22] Johnson, S., Marker, L., Mengersen, K., Gordon, C., Melzheimer, J., & Schmidt-Kuntzel, A. (2013). Modeling the Viability of the Free-Ranging Cheetah Population in Namibia: An Object Oriented Bayesian Network Approach. Ecosphere, 4, 1-19.
[23] Katjiua, M., & Ward, D. (2007). Pastoralists’ Perceptions and Realities of Vegetation Change and Browse Consumption in the Northern Kalahari, Namibia. Journal of Arid Environments, 69, 716-730.
[24] Kelly, M. J., & Durant, S. M. (2000). Viability of the Serengeti Cheetah Population. Conservation Biology, 14, 786-797.
[25] Kenward, R. (Ed.) (2001). A Manual for Wildlife Radio Tagging. Millbrae, CA: Academic Press.
[26] Marker, L., Muntifering, J., Dickman, A., Mills, M., & MacDonald, D. (2003a). Quantifying Prey Preferences for the Free-ranging Namibian Cheetah. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 33, 43-53.
[27] Marker, L. L. (2002). Aspects of Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Biology, Ecology and Conservation Strategies on Namibian Farmlands. Ph.D. Dissertation, Oxford: University of Oxford.
[28] Marker, L. L., Dickman, A., Wilkinson, C., Schumann, B., & Fabiano, E. (2007). The Namibian Cheetah: Status Report. Cat News Special Issue, 3, 3-13.
[29] Marker, L. L., Dickman, A. J., Jeo, R. M., Mills, M. G. L., & MacDonald, D. W. (2003b). Demography of the Namibian Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus. Biological Conservation, 114, 413-425.
[30] Marker, L. L., Dickman, A. J., Mills, M. G. L., Jeo, R. M., & MacDonald, D. W. (2008). Spatial Ecology of Cheetahs on North-Central Namibian Farmlands. Journal of Zoology, 274, 226-238.
[31] Marker-Kraus, L., & Kraus, D. (1993). The Namibian Free-Ranging Cheetah. Environmental Conservation, 21, 369-370.
[32] Moleele, N. M., Ringrose, S., Matheson, W., & Vanderpost, C. (2002). More Woody Plants? The Status of Bush Encroachment in Botswana’s Grazing Areas. Journal of Environmental Management, 64, 3-11.
[33] Muntifering, J. R., Dickman, A. J., Perlow, L. M., Hruska, T., Ryan, P. G., Marker, L. L., & Jeo, R. M. (2006). Managing the Matrix for Large Carnivores: A Novel Approach and Perspective from Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Habitat Suitability Modelling. Animal Conservation, 9, 103-112.
[34] Murcia, C. (1995). Edge Effects in Fragmented Forests: Implications for Conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 10, 58-62.
[35] Norusis, M. J. (2000). Guide to Data Analysis: SPSS 10.0. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.
[36] Rothaughe, A. (2011). Ecological Dynamics of Central Namibia’s Savannahs Part 2—Bush Ecology. Agricola, No. 21, 14-24.
[37] Southwood, T., & Henderson, P. (2000). Ecological Methods. London: Blackwell Science Limited.
[38] Tredoux, C., & Durrheim, K. (2002). Number, Hypotheses & Conclusions: A Course in Statistics for the Social Sciences. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.
[39] Ward, D., Ngairorue, B. T., Apollus, A., & Tjiveze, H. (2000). Perceptions and Realities of Land Degradation in Arid Otjimbingwe, Namibia. Journal of Arid Environments, 45, 337-356.
[40] Zimmerman, I. (2009). Causes and Consequences of Fenceline Contrasts in Namibia. Ph.D. Dissertation, Bloemfontein: University of the Free States.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2017 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.