The Serengeti research is not a WWCT project; instead it is part of a long-standing programme called The Serengeti Biodiversity Programme, supported by the University of British Columbia and University of Guelph in Canada, mostly with funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Andrew Kittle, Principle Investigator of WWCT is a part of this programme through his Phd reseach with Dr. John Fryxell at the University of Guelph.
The main focus of his Phd research is ‘Carnivore co-existence’ through which he aims to better understand the methods used by competing carnivore species to share time and space. Lions and hyenas are the two major predators in the Serengeti system, responsible for an estimated 85% of herbivore predation there (Sinclair et al 1995) and they are also frequent rivals, competing over food resources both directly (fighting and stealing kills) and indirectly (both utilizing the same prey species). This project follows 5 lions from neighbouring prides and 5 hyenas from overlapping and neighbouring clans fitted with GPS radio collars which record their exact location every 2 hours. The collars were active for ~18 months and have now been removed and data analysis is underway.
One of the key links between the work in the Serengeti and our research here in Sri Lanka, is our interest in the role of intra-guild competition in shaping carnivore behaviour and ecology. In Sri Lanka, the leopard is the only large cat and the top predator and is free from this type of competition. They do compete from time to time with bears over kills but bears are omnivorous and not directly in competition. A closer approximation of this type of competition here is with the fishing cat, especially in areas where larger herbivores are absent, but this relationship is very asymmetrical.