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Abstract

Conservation strategies for the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) are based on creating metapopulations in small enclosed reserves in South Africa. With these reintroductions increasing, prey preferences, habitat selections, and interspecific competition must be considered by reserve managers to ensure the species; survival. In this study, we investigated potential interspecific competition amongst three wild dogs, 20 lions, and 19 cheetahs at the Manyoni Private Game Reserve (MPGR) in South Africa. The main goal was to give information to management on the feeding dynamics and distribution of wild dogs at MPGR, and to assess whether lion and cheetah are influencing these dynamics. Analysing observational and triangulated data from 2014 – 2018, over 70% of wild dog and cheetah kills were of impala and nyala. However, impala were killed significantly more than nyala for both wild dog (p < 0.01) and cheetah (p < 0.001). Lion killed significantly more warthog (p < 0.001) and ostrich (p < 0.05) than expected. Wild dog made significantly more kills in thickets than expected (p < 0.05), and lion in riparian (p < 0.05). Cheetah and lion distributions have a potential overlap in the centre of the reserve, and wild dog distributions occurred on the outskirts. Wild dogs were the only species to show a significant preference for rocky hills (p = 0.03), suggesting they are being driven to that habitat type, possibly avoiding lion. These results show potential interspecific competition amongst the three predators on MPGR for both prey and habitat. Other studies show that wild dogs avoid lion territory, and have a prey preference overlap with cheetah. To avoid dietary competition between cheetah and wild dog, management could introduce more smaller prey species to balance the consumption rate of specific prey. It is also recommended that MPGR monitors their lion population to avoid unnecessary population declines of subordinate predators.