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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Russell Hill

Chase Grey, J.N., Kent, V.T. & Hill, R.A. (2013). Evidence of a high density population of harvested leopards in a montane environment. PLOS ONE 8(12): e82832.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Populations of large carnivores can persist in mountainous environments following extensive land use change and the conversion of suitable habitat for agriculture and human habitation in lower lying areas of their range. The significance of these populations is poorly understood, however, and little attention has focussed on why certain mountainous areas can hold high densities of large carnivores and what the conservation implications of such populations might be. Here we use the leopard (Panthera pardus) population in the western Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa, as a model system and show that montane habitats can support high numbers of leopards. Spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) analysis recorded the highest density of leopards reported outside of state-protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. This density represents a temporally high local abundance of leopards and we explore the explanations for this alongside some of the potential conservation implications.