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Wednesday, February 8 • 9:00am - 9:20am
Technical Session. Estimation of Distribution and Abundance of the Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana

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AUTHORS: Jazmin Castillo, Dr. Andrei Snyman, Dr. John P. Carroll - University of Nebraska-Lincoln

ABSTRACT: Changes in land use and increasing human populations in southern Africa has negatively impacted the distribution and abundance of large predators (African lion Panthera leo, leopard Panthera pardus, and spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta), even in protected areas. The Northern Tuli Game Reserve (NTGR), Botswana, is a protected area within a matrix of human impacted landscapes. Adjacent land use and human populations are changing dramatically, including increasing human population, villages, modern farming, subsistence farming, and livestock grazing. We hypothesized that spotted hyena abundance would be larger within the reserve core compared to closer to boundaries and human populations. In 2008-2009 and 2015-2016, spotted hyena surveys were conducted throughout the reserve during winter months of May-June. A series of calling stations at fixed sites, covering about 75% of the 72,000 ha reserve, were used in order to attract predators using a buffalo calf in distress call projected through loud speakers. Each calling station lasted an hour where all predators and their behavior were recorded. Spotted hyenas were observed at 95% of the 19 calling stations. The 2008-2009 abundance estimate was 116 hyenas (95% CI 74-159). Our 2015 survey revealed there are currently approximately 150 hyenas (95% CI 117-182), larger density calculated than in the 2008-2009 survey. Although our numbers increased, there was no statistical increase. Mean number of hyenas seen at calling stations was 5.3 ± 4.2 SD. Distribution of hyenas was negatively related to proximity to reserve boundaries and human activity, as was behavior. In addition, snares were seen mainly on animals near boundaries. Our data suggests humans are impacting hyena distribution, and even behavior within this protected area. Although abundance estimates suggest a stable population throughout the reserve, it is important to understand possible cascade effects of this and the other dominant predators in the region.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 9:00am - 9:20am CST