Demographic characteristics of lion (Panthera leo) in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
Lions are threatened across their natural range. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), comprising the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP; South Africa) and Gemsbok National Park (GNP; Botswana), is a stronghold for the species. Population size and demography of lions in the KGNP has been addressed in four historic studies. Studies in mid-1970 and 1990 reported a female biased population whereas in 2010 the sex structure was skewed towards males (56%). The bias in sex ratios towards males was first observed in cubs and sub-adults in 2001 and later, in 2010, throughout the population. Furthermore, in the 2010 assessment of the lion population, a smaller proportion of cubs (< 2 yrs) were observed in comparisons to the preceding studies (10% vs. ≥ 23%). The skew in age and sex structures that were observed in the KGNP led to concerns over the long-term sustainability of the greater KTP lion population. The lion population carries further risks associated with the stochastic, arid environment, in which the KTP lion population persists. Human-lion conflict on the borders of the KTP and anthropogenic alterations of the environment further threaten lion demographic stability.