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We test two hypotheses that could account for patch departure by large mammalian carnivores. One hypothesis is the unsuccessful-hunt hypothesis, where carnivores leave an area after an unsuccessful hunt but continue hunting in the same area after a successful hunt. The second hypothesis is the patch-disturbance hypothesis, where carnivores depart the area after a successful hunt because of behavioral responses of prey to predator presence. We used global positioning system collars to monitor the movements of African lions (Panthera leo) and identified their kill sites to distinguish between these two hypotheses. Lions moved to a different area (≥ 5 km away) after 87% of the kills, which supports the patch-disturbance hypothesis for patch-departure behavior of large mammalian carnivores.

Original publication




Journal article


Am Nat

Publication Date





269 - 275


Animals, Female, Geographic Information Systems, Homing Behavior, Lions, Male, Predatory Behavior, Zimbabwe