Estimating brown hyaena occupancyusing baited camera traps
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Conservation and management of brown hyaenas (Hyaena brunnea) is hampered by a lack ofinformation on abundance and distribution, which is difficult and labour-intensive to obtain.However, occupancy surveys offer a potentially efficient and robust means of assessingbrown hyaena populations. We evaluate the efficacy of camera trapping for estimatingbrown hyaena occupancy, and the effect of environmental variables and lures on detectionprobability. We estimated population density in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa, at2.8/100 km2, occupancy at 1.0 and model-averaged detection probability at 0.1. Using a fishlure increased detection probability to 0.2 and significantly increased encounter rates. Wealso found that brown hyaenas are more likely to be detected in areas of scrub or woodlandrather than grassland. Our results suggest that 13 camera sites would be needed to achievean occupancy estimate with S.E. of 0.05, and a minimum of 16–34 sampling occasions (withand without the fish lure) should be used in comparable study areas. We conclude thatcamera trapping is a viable method of estimating brown hyaena occupancy at local andlandscape scales and capture–recapture analysis is also possible at a local scale.
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