Lions have led researchers to believe that they have been living up to there name as the predatory King of the Jungle. Due to their overpowering demeanor, researchers have assumed that all animals lower in hierarchy have been inferior and a target of prey to the almighty lion.
Fellow felines have been no exception to this theory, until recently when studies showed that the coexistence of big cats in conservation areas versus the wild may be possible.
The Journal of Zoology has found that cheetah “cubs in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park were seven times more likely to survive then on the Serengeti Plains and that lions were not found to be the cubs’ main predatory threat.”
Visiting a number of dens, to study litters of six adult female cheetahs, it was discovered that in the conservation area, 55% of litters and 53.6% of cubs survived to adulthood. Only 6.7% of mortality cases involved lions where in the wild 78.2% did.
Researchers believe that the open plains and landscapes make cubs more vulnerable to predators like lions, along with the migratory patterns of other prey in the wild making them less available and making cubs more of a target.
While in conservation areas like Kgalagadi, most animals live a sedentary life and have a constant source of food available to them. This makes lions least likely to go hunting for smaller prey like cheetah cubs.
All in all researchers now believe that not only are big cats protected from the dangers of the wild but they are also protected from predators and can coexist with large carnivores in conservation areas.
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