Flexible Use of Urban Resources by the Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penicillata
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa
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Received: 20 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
Many species have become locally extinct because of urbanization. However, many thrive in urban areas because they originally have, or they have acquired, features that enable them to exploit urban areas. We studied the ecology of the urban yellow mongoose, a recent urban dweller in parts of South Africa. We investigated the diet, space use and activity habits of yellow mongooses, and whether they exploit residential gardens. Similar to their non-urban counterparts, yellow mongooses in urban areas fed on insects, particularly in spring/summer. The presence of human food items, small mammals and birds in scats increased during autumn/winter, when insects are known to be less abundant. Camera trap footage revealed that, similar to their non-urban counterparts, yellow mongooses in urban areas were more prevalent in open habitats, and showed an early morning, late afternoon diurnal activity pattern. These urban mongooses were more frequently near human residences than at sites further away. Their home range size was considerably smaller than that of non-urban mongooses and overlapped more with human residents during autumn/winter than during spring/summer. Overall, the urban yellow mongooses displayed characteristics similar to non-urban mongooses, particularly in their diet, habitat use and activity patterns. Yet, they modified their diet by including human food, occurred in gardens, and had smaller home ranges, indicating modifications for urban life.