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Leopard (Panthera pardus) interactions with Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
From the paper 'Caching reduces kleptoparasitism in a solitary, large felid' by Balme et al., 2017. Link: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley....2656.12654

Scavenged items (n=183)were kleptoparasitized mainly from other leopards (89%),but also from lion (3%), hyaena (1%), African wild dog Lycaon pictus(1%), cheetah Acinonyx jubatus(<1%), Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus(<1%) and martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus(<1%) kills, as well as scavenged from animals that died from causes other than predation (4%).

At least 21% of leopard kills were kleptoparasitized(Table S1). Hyaenas were the most common perpetrators(accounting for 50% of kleptoparasitized kills), followed by other leopards (39%), lions (9%), African wild dogs(1%), Nile crocodiles (<1%) and chacma baboons Papio ursinus(<1%). Male leopards were responsible for 143 of the 162 (88%) kills kleptoparasitized by conspecifics.

In contrast, leopards were often seen to hoist kills indirect response to the arrival of a hyaena at a kill, and hoisting effectively protected kills from hyaenas (the 39 hoisted kills kleptoparasitized by hyaenas all fell from the tree, often dislodged by inexperienced cubs). As such, the immediate risk posed by hyaenas at kills is more likely a driver of hoisting behaviour. The presence of lions at kills had no effect on hoisting probability. Lions pose a far greater threat to the safety of leopards than hyaenas (Bai-ley 2005; Balme et al.2013), and in all cases that lions found a leopard with a kill on the ground, the leopard immediately abandoned its kill and fled. Hoisting was also not particularly effective at safeguarding kills from lions(Fig. S3); lions were able to kleptoparasitize 63% of the hoisted kills that they detected

Despite their ability to hoist kills, leopards in our study area suffered high rates of kleptoparasitism (at least 21%of kills were kleptoparasitized). However, without being able to hoist kills, losses of prey to hyaenas would likely create an untenable situation for leopards. Taking into consideration the number of occasions that we observed hyaenas at leopard kills, as well as the relative inability of leopards to defend non-hoisted kills from hyaenas, we estimate that kleptoparasitism rates in the absence of hoisting would reach as high as 38%.
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu

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