Southern Africa has a diverse large carnivore guild. When this large carnivore guild is confined to fenced protected areas, the degree of intraguild competition may increase. Dietary overlap is a notable point of competition and can have considerable effects on lower trophic levels. We considered the prey preferences, dietary overlap, and dietary niche breadth of the large carnivore guild in Madikwe Game Reserve through direct observations and scat analysis, over one year of sampling. These data were analysed using the Jacobs' index for prey preference, the Pianka's index for dietary overlap and Levin's index for dietary niche breadth. Leopards (Panthera pardus), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) had a high degree of dietary overlap and were specialized in their diet selection. Lions (Panthera leo), brown (Parahyaena brunnea) and spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) also showed a high degree of dietary overlap and had broad diets. Our results show similarities to those of open systems, suggesting that large carnivore diet selection may not be negatively affected when they are confined by fences. We recommend further investigations into the variables which may affect site-specific carnivore diet selection.
fenced protected areas