On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
The range use patterns of adult leopards were used to examine the impact of environmental quality on conservation area size in the arid south-western portion of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in southern Africa. The ranges of the leopards are the largest recorded in the world, with a mean size of 2104.4 km2 (SEM 995.95 km2) for males and 1258.5 km2 (SEM 541.50 km2) for females. Overlaps in range use within and between the sexes and the size of this conservation area make it possible to sustain a genetically viable population of leopards in this arid environment. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: When establishing conservation areas that contain large carnivores in arid and semi-arid regions, prey abundance and range use should be considered for the area to be able to sustain viable populations of such carnivores. The results emphasise the importance of establishing large transfrontier conservation areas where individual conservation areas are too small to do so. This study is the first to do so for leopards in southern Africa.