Recently, conservation estate in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province has increased 10-fold resulting in large predators being increasingly reintroduced to restore ecological integrity and maximize tourism. We describe the reintroductions of large carnivores (>10 kg) that have occurred in the Eastern Cape and use various criteria to assess their success. Lion Panthera leo reintroduction has been highly successful with a population of 56 currently extant in the region and problems of overpopulation arising. The African wild dog Lycaon pictus population has increased to 24 from a founder population of 11. Preliminary results for spotted hyaenas Crocuta crocuta also indicate success. Wild populations of leopards Panthera pardus exist on several reserves and have been supplemented by translocated individuals, although deaths of known individuals have occurred and no estimate of reproduction is available. Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus reintroduction has also been less successful with 36 individuals reintroduced and 23 cubs being born but only 41 individuals surviving in 2005. Criteria for assessing the success of reintroductions of species that naturally occur in low densities, such as top predators, generally have limited value. Carrying capacity for large predators is unknown and continued monitoring and intensive management will be necessary in enclosed, and possibly all, conservation areas in the Eastern Cape to ensure conservation success.
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