Use of baited camera traps to sample carnivore communities in eastern Botswana
Satterfield, Lauren Claire
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Human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss are threatening carnivore populations in southern Africa, where the bulk of carnivore research focuses on large, charismatic predators. However, scant research exists on basic aspects of medium and small carnivore ecology in southern Africa. The Mashatu Game Reserve is a 25,000 ha, unfenced private reserve in eastern Botswana. I investigated occupancy, detection, and habitat use of the carnivore community in the Mashatu Game Reserve using baited camera traps during winter of 2012 and 2013. Three main bait types were assessed: impala meat, cheesecloth soaked in spent cooking fat, and non-baited controls. Further, I assessed carnivore and prey activity patterns by using data gathered from camera traps as part of the occupancy study. Results demonstrated differences in bait preference and habitat type by species. Further, I found heterogeneity of temporal activity among carnivores of similar prey bases.