Spatial and temporal variation in lion (Panthera leo) diet within the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
A survey in 2010 suggested that the lion (Panthera leo) population of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP) was exhibiting a skewed sex ratio in favour of males, which can ultimately lead to a decline in lion population numbers. In the KGNP artificial water provision has influenced the abundance of resident prey and potentially, lion diet and body condition. Changes in mammalian diet, and consequently body condition, have been found to influence the sex ratio of offspring. In response to a concern that diet may be influencing lion sex ratios in the KGNP, aspects of the spatial and temporal variation in lion diet were investigated between May 2013 and June 2015. The lion diet profile in the KGNP was described using evidence of prey remains identified through GPS cluster analysis (n = 278) from seven collared lionesses, lion scat analysis (n = 189) and opportunistic observations of lion feeding events (n = 52). Spatial variation in diet was investigated between three regional landscape types (north, south and west), based on the different vegetation types represented within each area, and two habitat types (riverbeds and dunes). Seasonal variations were assessed according to the hot-wet season (November to April), and the cold-dry season (May to October). Findings were also used to assess whether lion diet in KGNP has changed over the last 45 years through evaluating results from historical lion diet studies.