Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Monday, 10 November 2014

Cat predation assessed through kitty-cams

Morling, F. (2014). Cape Town's cats: reassessing predation through kitty-cam. Mini Thesis.

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are abundant generalist predators that exploit a wide range of prey within and adjacent to the urban matrix. Cats are known to have contributed to the extinction and endangerment (mostly on islands) of a number of indigenous species, including birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Most research on this important topic has been carried out in the developed world, predominantly in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S. and Canada with only four studies carried out in Africa. Of these, two studies in Cape Town suggest that domestic cats have a big impact on wildlife but these studies may have underestimated predation because they failed to account for the proportion of prey not returned to participants’ homes. In this study I used kitty-cams in an attempt to provide a prey correction factor for urban cats in Cape Town, South Africa. I investigated hunting of wildlife by free-ranging domestic cats in Newlands, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa over 5 weeks in 2013. I monitored 13 cats (6 deep-urban and 7 urban-edge) by questionnaire survey, asking cat owners to record all prey items returned by their cats. A total of 43 prey items were returned, 42% of which were small mammals, 30% invertebrates, 12% reptiles, 9% amphibians and 7% birds. Combining these data with two similar survey studies carried out in Cape Town I estimated that a total of 118 cats caught an average of 0.04 prey items per cat per day. Ten of the 13 cats were also monitored for 3 weeks using kitty-cam video cameras. Participating cats wore a video camera and all activity was analysed for prey captures and behavioural activity patterns.

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