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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Wild versus domestic prey: Variation in the kill-site behavior of two large felids

Tallian, Aimee; Mattisson, Jenny; Samelius, Gustaf; Odden, John; Mishra, Charudutt; Lkhagvajav, Purevjav; Johansson, Orjan


Livestock depredation is an important source of conflict for many terrestrial large carnivore species. Understanding the foraging behavior of large carnivores on domestic prey is therefore important for both mitigating conflict and conserving threatened carnivore populations. Handling time is an important, albeit often overlooked, component of predatory behavior, as it directly influences access to food biomass, which can affect predator foraging efficiency and subsequent kill rates. We used long-term data on snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Mongolia (Asia) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Norway (Europe) to examine how large carnivore foraging patterns varied between domestic and wild prey, and how the different landscape characteristics affected those patterns. Our results suggest handling time was generally shorter for domestic compared to wild prey. For snow leopards, rugged terrain was linked to increased handling time for larger prey. For lynx, handling time increased with terrain ruggedness for domestic, but not wild, prey, and was greater in closed compared to open habitats. There were also other differences in snow leopard and lynx foraging behavior, e.g., snow leopards also stayed longer at, and remained closer to, their kill sites than lynx. Shorter handling time suggests that felids may have utilized domestic prey less effectively than wild prey, i.e., they spent less time consuming their prey. This could a) result in an energetic or fitness cost related to decreased felid foraging efficiency caused by the risk of anthropogenic disturbance, or b) exacerbate conflict if reduced handling time associated with easy prey results in increased livestock depredation.


Eurasian lynx; Handling time; Landscape; Livestock; Predation; Snow leopard

Published in

Global Ecology and Conservation
2023, Volume: 47, article number: e02650
Publisher: ELSEVIER

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