On the tropical grasslands of Africa, there are loads of large carnivores. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs are all found, sometimes, in the same place. I was wondering, why is it that there are so many species of large predator in the same place? Wouldn't competition drive all but one species to extinction?

Obviously, this means that each of the predators fills a special niche. So, could anyone tell me what these ecological niches are? What makes the position in the food web of lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs different to eachother?

  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure but you might overestimate the density of large predators in the African savanna. 1) The savanna covers a very large territory in Africa 2) how many large predators are there? Lion, cheetah, hyena, African wild dog. Looking at a list of apex predators, it does not obviously occur to me that more of them are present in the African savanna than elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 14 '18 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ Note that it is possible that humans have less impacted the African savanna, than say, the European forests, leading to more extinction of apex predators in European forests, than in the African savanna. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 14 '18 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b Well, there are places, like the Serengeti or Kruger, where you could go on a safari and see all of them, wild, in a day. If they all occupied the same ecological niches, all but one species would die out. So I'm wondering what makes each of their roles unique. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 14 '18 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ I am playing the devil's advocate but don't get me wrong, I think the question is interesting. You say they all occupied the same ecological niches They are likely not actually. It is not because they live in the same geographical space and all predate that they share the same ecological niche. They might differ because prefer to predate on one or another prey species, or because one target babies, the other adults, because one needs more water than the other, because one needs more shade than the other, etc ... $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 14 '18 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ North American had bear, puma, wolves, coyote, and at one time cheetah and lion, africa does not look all that special. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 14 '18 at 13:52

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