Flight behavioural responses for African ungulates across species and vegetation covers in a trophy hunting ecosystem: A case study from Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Ezra Peter Mremi*, Felister Michael Mombo, Michael Muganda, Peadar Brehony, Michael Honorati Kimaro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Trophy hunting has severe consequences on wild animals’ behaviors, which in return has implications for affecting wildlife populations. The Selous Game Reserve is a protected area in Tanzania that has been subjected to commercial trophy hunting for decades, and information about the effects of trophy hunting on animals’ welfare is still scarce. The Flight Initiating Distance (FID) can be a good measure to evaluate the welfare of animals and the level of risk perception towards anthropogenic disturbances, including trophy hunting. The study used linear mixed models to assess the flight responses of twelve commonly hunted species in the Selous game reserve (S.G.R.). The study compared animal vigilance between species, vegetation types, and group size. The FID varied between species, with which more vigilance was observed in zebras, elands, wildebeests, and sable antelopes. The study found a significant influence of vegetation cover on individual species’ FID. Further, the study found a significant influence of group size on animals’ vigilance (L. M. M., 95% CI = 0.590 - 4.762), in which there was a decrease in FID with an increase in group size for wildebeests. At the same time, other species, such as buffaloes, eland, hartebeests, and zebras, had their FIDs increasing with the increase in group size. We conclude that the impact of trophy hunting on savannah ungulates varies between species, vegetation covers, and group size of individual species. Regulatory authorities should consider minimum approach distances by trophy hunters in different vegetation cover to reduce animal biological disturbances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-535
Number of pages11
JournalOpen Journal of Ecology
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3-Aug-2023

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