Sport hunting may have severe behavioural consequences, and possibly conservation implications for wildlife populations. We used flight initiation distances by two herbivores, impala (Aepyceros melampus) and greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) to assess the impacts of sport hunting on their flight behaviour. We compared Gwaai, a designated hunting area adjacent to Hwange National Park, a protected area in Zimbabwe.We aimed to estimate flight initiation distances (FIDs) for impala and kudu as this can be a good measure of hunting effect on behaviour. Our results suggest that impala and kudu are more flight prone in hunting areas than in non-hunting areas. We propose habituation to explain the shorter FIDs in the protected area,and the risk of being shot by hunters the higher FIDs in the hunting area.We concede that more field observations are needed to estimate the distance at which animals will always trigger an immediate flight response from approaching predators (Dmin) and the distance above which prey will not move away from an approaching predator as it is not perceived to be dangerous (Dmax) in our study area. However,we suggest that Dmin is a useful index for wildlife managers to assess predation risk.
flight initiation distance
index of insecurity