Carnivore populations are in decline globally and continued research on effective conservation and management strategies is vital for stabilizing and protecting populations. These declines are of particular concern due to the potential role carnivores play in altering ecosystem dynamics through trophic interactions. Consequently, a thorough understanding of carnivore community ecology is essential for the conservation of not only carnivore species, but also the ecosystems that they inhabit. In southern Africa, extensive research of large carnivores has a long and enduring history.
Studies on medium and small carnivores (mesocarnivores) in the region are conspicuously lacking given their ecological importance and the precarious conservation status of some species. There is an important need for the development of efficient, cost-effective, non-invasive sampling methodologies which adequately survey the majority of species within the carnivore communities of southern Africa. This need is due to the relative rarity and cryptic nature of most carnivores, scant research resources, and often restrictive regulations on data collection in southern Africa’s wildlife parks and game reserves.
Advancement in digital photography, remote camera (camera trap) technology and stable isotope analysis meets these needs as it allows for sampling methods that are minimally invasive, and low in cost and manpower, while generating high quality data. It is these tools that Mashatu Research is using to answer questions related to mesocarnivores.