Using spoor counts to analyse the effect of small stock farming in Namibia on caracal density in the neighbouring Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

14 May 2007

A spoor count was done to determine whether caracal spoor densities in the vicinity of the border of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park differed from those in the interior of the Park. The objective was to compare caracal densities close to the agricultural land with those deeper in a national park. Two long-distance transects, one along the Namibian border and one diverging from the Namibian border into the interior of the Park, were surveyed on a monthly basis. Spoor density, discrete track set distances and orientation of spoor to the road were recorded and analysed to establish use patterns for three distinct zones in the Park. The hypothesis tested was that increased spoor counts along the border should result from an attraction to the adjacent agricultural (cattle and sheep production) land. It is shown that caracals avoid the areas near the Namibian border during the hot season but increased their utilization in this region in the cold season. This implies that under conditions of low prey availability (cold season) caracals may move to the border and cross onto agricultural land to prey on small livestock, there.