Vigilance and Flight initiation distances

Vigilance and Flight initiation distances (FID) for wildlife species are tools to assess hunting effect on behaviour. This study investigated the effects of hunting, habitat type and group size on Impala (Aepyceros melampus) and great kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) in Unit 6 (a hunting area) and Unit 7 (a non –hunting area) of Matetsi Safari Area from October to December 2017. Vigilance and FIDs of impala and kudu were estimated as this can be a good measure of hunting and habitat effects on behaviour. The FID of Impala and kudu were longer in the hunting area compared to the non-hunting area (Impala: 60.33m ± 5.690 vs 32.89m ± 2.21); kudu: (71.55m ±7.48 vs 37.10 ± 3.61) but the FIDs were not different across habitats, group size. Also, Impala and kudu in hunting area had higher vigilance time than those in non hunting area (Impala: 62.62sec ± 6.68 vs 30.92 ± 2.59); kudu (80.56 sec ± 17.29 vs 36.38 ± 3.23). High vigilance time and long flight were observed in hunting area due to use of lethal and high level of predation. Whereas antelopes in non-hunting areas are less responsive and somehow habituated to human presence. Management plans should include minimum approach distances by tourists as well as establishing seasonal restrictions on special zones to promote species viability