Carnivores belong to the family of mammals. The term “carnivora” was derived from the Latin caro, carnis (meat) and vorare (V). However, not all carnivores live off of meat.
Ecologists describe a predator as being an organism that consumes the whole or parts of other living organisms. Hence, their prey is still alive at the time of consumption. That is why herbivores, carnivores and parasites all belong to the same family of predators.
Carnivores have a highly important ecological function, as, by hunting prey, they prevent certain kinds from multiplying too much, which could otherwise harm certain vegetations and endanger the stabilization of the ecosystem. Predators are also referred to as ecological key stone species or umbrella species because of their particular preference in food, but also because of their size and their low psychological tolerance regarding environmental fluctuations. Hence, their important ecological role makes predators quite valuable and worthy of protection. If they are protected so are a multitude of other species. With that said, predators are one of various sensitive indicators that account for the health of an eco system’s welfare.
An important reason for the decline of many natural inhibited wildlife populations (especially carnivores) is the conflict between wild animals and humans. Even in our project’s region of central Kalahari, such a conflict is present. The need for more land among the population has steadily increased, which, in turn, has brought a growing pressure on wild animal habitats.