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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hunting, food subsidies, and mesopredator release: The dynamics of crop-raiding baboons in a managed landscape

  • Author(s): Taylor, RA
  • Ryan, SJ
  • Brashares, JS
  • Johnson, LR
  • et al.

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© 2016 by the Ecological Society of America. The establishment of protected areas or parks has become an important tool for wildlife conservation. However, frequent occurrences of human-wildlife conflict at the edges of these parks can undermine their conservation goals. Many African protected areas have experienced concurrent declines of apex predators alongside increases in both baboon abundance and the density of humans living near the park boundary. Baboons then take excursions outside of the park to raid crops for food, conflicting with the human population. We model the interactions of mesopredators (baboons), apex predators, and shared prey in the park to analyze how four components affect the proportion of time that mesopredators choose to crop-raid: (1) the presence of apex predators; (2) nutritional quality of the crops; (3) mesopredator "shyness" about leaving the park; and (4) human hunting of mesopredators. We predict that the presence of apex predators in the park is the most effective method for controlling mesopredator abundance, and hence significantly reduces their impact on crops. Human hunting of mesopredators is less effective as it only occurs during crop-raiding excursions. Furthermore, making crops less attractive, for instance by planting crops further from the park boundary or farming less nutritional crops, can reduce the amount of time mesopredators crop-raid.

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