Home ranges of Ishasha lions: size and location in relation to habitat and prey availability
The sizes of African lion home ranges vary widely but tend to correlate with characteristics of the prey populations (e.g. prey density and preferred prey weight). Lion home ranges should be expected to temporally fluctuate according to changes in prey biomass. Here we quantified and compared the home range sizes of lions in Uganda with data collected in the 1970’s and that collected in the 2000’s. Average range sizes of individual lions were 34.0 and 38.1 km2 for the two prides studied, while pride range was 35.7 and 43.1 km2 (Fixed-kernel method). Surprisingly, we found little variation in size of these home ranges between the two periods assessed. Across both periods, lion home ranges tended to be associated with grassland and wooded grassland to woodland, riverine forest and bushland habitats. The core lion home ranges typically overlapped with habitat where Uganda kob (preferred prey in this region) were most abundant and where most kills were made. Buffalo, topi, and waterbuck are avoided while warthog is preyed on in accordance with availability. Range location has not changed greatly since the 1970s although home range size has increased and pride size decreased, possibly in response to lower prey biomass.
Keywords: compositional analysis, fixed-kernel, prey preference, habitat selection, Queen Elizabeth National Park