Meeting Abstract

40.1  Thursday, Jan. 5  Unusually high predation on Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) by female leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg Mountains, South Africa JOOSTE, E.*; SWANEPOEL, L.H.; PITMAN, R.T.; VAN HOVEN, W.; University of Pretoria, South Africa; University of Pretoria, South Africa; University of Plymouth, UK; University of Pretoria, South Africa

Leopards are the primary predator of baboons, but do not favor baboons, likely because their extreme aggressiveness and high mobility may limit leopard predation. Male baboons are particularly aggressive and retaliation often leads to the death of the leopard. However, leopards may learn to catch and kill certain dangerous prey. This study reports predation on Chacma baboons by female leopards in the Waterberg Mountains of South Africa. Potential leopard feeding sites were identified using global positioning system (GPS) location clusters obtained from GPS collars. Over a five month period we investigated 200 potential leopard feeding sites and located 96 leopard feeding/kill sites. Baboons constituted 18.7% of the leopards’ biomass intake, considerably higher than previous studies which report the contribution of baboons to leopard diets seldom exceeds 5% of biomass. The majority of the baboons preyed upon were adults and 70% of the kills were diurnal, as determined by the time of the first GPS-location in GPS-clusters formed at confirmed baboon feeding/kill sites. There were no significant differences between the measured variables of feeding sites of baboons and those of other prey species, suggesting that leopards were hunting baboons opportunistically. The recurring predation on adult baboons by a sub-adult female, recently split from her mother, suggests that specialized hunting skills are possibly passed down from mother leopards to their cubs.