My name is Sander Vissia, 27, PhD candidate at the Resource Ecology Group at Wageningen University. I am currently in my second year doing my field work in Botswana. My research looks at African Leopard (Panthera pardus) ecology and movement behaviour in an area which is dominated by two hyena species (spotted and brown) and a recovering lion population. I am using camera trap + capture-recapture methods to estimate densities for all carnivore species and see how densities change as a result of a recovering dominant competitor population (lions). In addition, I will look at the degree of dietary overlap via scat analysis between the carnivore species as a way of indicating low / high levels of competition between the species. Furthermore, based on data collected from kill sites I will assess how much kleptoparasitism (losing kills to other animals) occurs and identify variables that can predict levels of this kleptoparasitism. I will focus on movement patterns of leopards after they have made a kill, will they stay in the same area or as a result of other carnivore proximity will they move away after making a kill. Lastly, in my area we have the unique situation that parts of land are surrounded by a flowing river (Limpopo) in the wet season basically cutting it off for a few months a year from access. I will look if vigilance levels, activity patterns will change in herbivores as a result of absence of carnivores. I hope that besides the obvious consumer resource interactions for herbivores there will also be some time dedicated to the carnivores.
Looking forward to doing the course, see you all on the 2nd!