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Habitat selection of Cape porcupines in a farmland-suburban context in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Abstract

Cape porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) have a wide geographic distribution throughout southern Africa and have a wide ecological tolerance of many terrestrial habitats, including those within human-altered landscapes. Due to their adaptability within anthropogenic landscapes, knowledge of their spatial behaviour will provide fundamental information about this species. With the aid of telemetry data (July 2016-January 2017) from 11 Cape porcupines, we investigated their habitat selection in a farmland-suburban context in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Two levels of selection were determined, 1) at the landscape area scale (2nd order of selection) and 2) at the home range scale (3rd order of selection). Our results showed a variation in their habitat selection at the two spatial scales. Although all Cape porcupines selected the forest with bushland habitat at the landscape scale, we observed a few individuals selecting the residential and grassland habitats or used these habitat types in proportion to their availability, at the home range scale. Agricultural areas (farmlands and timber plantations) were used by Cape porcupines, but were not selected. In suburban areas, the availability of naturally woody vegetation appeared to be the main driver of the species persistence within these landscapes. Also, we addressed possible human-porcupine conflict and provide management recommendations for cultivated farmlands and suburban gardens, where the species appear to be most conflict-prone.

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Correspondence to Colleen T. Downs.

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Ngcobo, S.P., Wilson, A. & Downs, C.T. Habitat selection of Cape porcupines in a farmland-suburban context in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Mamm Biol 98, 111–118 (2019) doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2019.08.004

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Keywords

  • Hystrix africaeaustralis
  • Food availability
  • Human-porcupine conflict
  • GPS telemetry
  • Land-use changes