The domestic and wild carnivore interface is complex, yet understudied. Interactions between carnivore species have important implications for direct interference competition, cross-species transmission of shared pathogens and conservation threats to wild carnivores. However, carnivore intraguild interactions are hard to quantify. In this study, we asked 512 villagers residing around a conservation area in the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania, to report on the presence of wild carnivores in their village, the number of domestic dogs Canis familiaris and cats Felis catus in their household and interactions between domestic and wild carnivores. Wild carnivores are abundant near households surrounding the Serengeti National Park, villagers have many free-ranging domestic dogs (and would like to have more) and direct and indirect contacts between wild and domestic carnivores are common. Large carnivores, such as spotted hyenas and leopards, often killed or wounded domestic dogs. Small carnivores, such as mongoose, bat-eared fox, serval and wildcat, are locally abundant and frequently interact with domestic dogs. We demonstrate that interspecific carnivore behavior, human culture and local and regional geography play a complex role in domestic and wild carnivore interaction risk around conservation areas. Through the use of household surveys, we were able to efficiently obtain data on a wide scope of carnivore interactions over a large area, which may provide a direction for future targeted and in-depth research to reduce interspecific conflict. Improving the health and husbandry of domestic animals and reducing the unintentional feeding of wild carnivores could reduce dog–wildlife interactions and the potential for pathogen transmission at the domestic–wild animal interface.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge Lincoln Park Zoo for funding the questionnaire study. The night transects were supported by the Serengeti Viral Dynamics Transmission Project (NSF grant EF-0225453 and Lincoln Park Zoo); these transects involved a long list of participants and we thank in particular K. Hampson, E. Ernest, C. Mentzel, T. Lembo and M. Bigambo. We thank Savannas Forever for assisting A.F. with transport between villages, J. Schmitt for GIS assistance, and A. Czupryna, K. Hampson, A. Rendahl, D. Travis and three anonymous reviewers for advice. M.C. is funded by the National Science Foundation (DEB-1413925), the Office of the Vice President for Research and an Academic Health Center Seed Grant from the University of Minnesota.
- Canis familiaris
- Felis catus
- disease transmission
- domestic carnivores
- household surveys
- wild–domestic carnivore interactions