Space use and feeding biology of large carnivores. A major thrust of the research group is the biology and conservation of large carnivores (including lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and hyaena) on small enclosed reserves... read more >>>
The role of small antelope in ecosystem functioning. This research is being carried out by a PhD student (Nicky Lunt) in the Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe. Most previous research has concentrated on the effects of larger... read more >>>
The diet & impact of elephants in the Eastern Cape Province. This is one of the major thrusts of the research group and we have projects running at Addo Elephant National Park, and at five private game reserves... read more >>>
The diet of giraffe in the Eastern Cape Province. It is commonly, although questionably, held that giraffe did not occur naturally in the Eastern Cape Province. In spite of this, many reserves have introduced... read more >>>


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Spatial Ecology and Feeding Ecology of Large Carnivores.

A major thrust of the research group is the biology and conservation of large carnivores (including lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and hyaenas) on relatively small, enclosed reserves.

For the last five years, students have been studying space use and diet of large carnivores on a number of reserves through southern Africa. Our results indicate to us that the cheetah is more adaptable than previously thought and, importantly, that reserves in the Eastern Cape Province can play a role in conservation of this species. Re-introduced large carnivores (lions, cheetahs and African wild dogs) all reproduce readily on enclosed systems and a key concern is the management of the large carnivore guild. Results from these studies have been published in the formal scientific literature and in popular articles and presented at national conferences and workshops.

We have an ongoing study at Kwandwe (research of Charlene Bissett) and additional studies at reserves in the Limpopo Province, the Eastern Cape Province (e.g. PhD of John O'Brien and the MSc's of Ross Forbes and Mathilde Brassine), the Western Province (MSc of Paul Vorster), in southern Botswana (MSc of Rebecca Klein) and south-western Zimbabwe (MSc of Tanith Grant). Each reserve/study site is a different size, has different large carnivores, and different numbers and species of prey. A comparison of the data generated by these studies should allow us to make more general statements about the behaviour of the large carnivores on small reserves and the role that the small reserves can play in the conservation of endangered species such as cheetah and wild dog.


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The role of small antelope in ecosystem functioning.

This research is being carried out by a PhD student (Nicky Lunt) in the Matobo Hills of Zimbabwe. While most previous research has concentrated on the effects of larger herbivores on ecosystem functioning, there is no doubt that the smaller species may also shape the habitat through seed dispersal and browsing of seedlings. This project, which will run for another two years, aims to assess the roles played by grey duiker, steenbok and klipspringer in woodland ecosystems.


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The diet & impact of elephants in the Eastern Cape Province.

This is one of the major thrusts of the research group and we have projects running across the province. This research is aimed at answering questions about space use, habitat selection, diet and the impact of the elephants in enclosed systems. Elephants did historically occur in the Eastern Cape Province but were removed by the early European settlers. Their return to many areas throughout the Eastern Cape Province has created the opportunity to study their behaviour in the thicket biome that is characteristic of the region. This work is ongoing and results have been presented at national conferences and published in the scientific literature.


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The diet of giraffe in the Eastern Cape Province.

It is commonly, although questionably, held that giraffe did not occur naturally in the Eastern Cape Province. In spite of this, many reserves have introduced giraffe and we have undertaken a three year study on three reserves to examine the diet of these giraffe and to begin to understand the effect that they have on the vegetation. This research was completed by a masters student and we have since published three papers and one popular article based on this research. The work has been presented at international and national conferences.