DOI: 10.1111/aje.13238 ISSN: 0141-6707

An occupancy analysis of the factors affecting the presence of carnivores at the national park‐human community interface in Rwanda

Eustrate Uzabaho, Noel Kwizera, Jennifer Frances Moore, Donat Nsabimana
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


People, livestock and carnivores are constantly interacting especially at the interface between community and protected areas. The carnivore guild category in Volcanoes National Park is important, and if well studied, could lead to additional research opportunities for improved wildlife management. We used single season occupancy models with multi‐species data, to understand the factors affecting species occurrence, detection and distribution among native carnivores of Volcanoes National Park while accounting for imperfect detection and the effects of site variables on the observed trends. Our findings showed that six native carnivores use the park edge, where the side‐striped jackal (Canis adustus) and serval (Leptailurus serval) are the most widespread with ψ = 0.904 (SE 0.051) and ψ = 0.415 (SE 0.086), respectively, followed by African golden cat (Caracal aurata) with ψ = 0.198 (SE 0.066), while the servaline genet (Genetta servalina), slender mongoose (Herpestes sanguineus) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta Crocuta) have very low probability of occupancy with ψ = 0.087 (SE 0.045), ψ = 0.044 (SE 0.032) and ψ = 0.022 (SE 0.022) respectively. In addition, there is high occurrence of feral dogs and human presence in the park edge. Overall, the occupancy of native carnivores increases as distance from settlements increase (β = 0.559 [SE 0.195]) except for hyaena and mongoose which showed a decrease in occupancy as distance to settlements increased. In general, native carnivores preferred sites located close to pasture areas, compared to areas used for agriculture and agroforestry. High overlapping activity between native carnivores and other wildlife varied greatly between species. This study provides the baseline information for the understanding of native carnivores using the park edge and insights on their interactions with other wildlife, livestock and human activities at the interface between the park and local communities. The co‐occurrence of livestock, feral dogs and humans, and native wildlife is a challenge for both wildlife conservation inside the protected area and local communities who might be negatively affected in different ways including interspecific competition, disease exposure and increased conflicts. We anticipate that some of the current livestock keeping are hindered by the challenges of having native carnivores dwelling along the park edge and community interface.

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