Publications

Potential effects of GPS collars on the behaviour of two red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) in Rotterdam Zoo

De Bunte, Wiene Van; Weerman, Janno; Hof, Anouschka R.

Summary

GPS collars are frequently used to study the (behavioural) ecology of species. However, such collars can cause behavioural changes and can have negative physiological effects on the individuals wearing them. A pilot study to obtain data on behavioural and physiological effects of GPS collars on the target species would therefore be recommended, especially when it concerns rare or endangered species. The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a small carnivore endemic to the mountains of Central Asia that is currently classified as endangered. There is a lack in knowledge on the species ecology which could be enhanced by a study using GPS-technology. As a pilot study, the two adult red pandas in Rotterdam Zoo were observed before and after fitting a GPS-collar, to determine possible behavioural effects of wearing a collar. Although the study did not take place under ideal circumstances, indications of both behavioural, e.g. increased shaking behaviour, and physical, e.g. abrasions, effects of the collar were found. Even though our results were only based on two individuals, our findings stress the need for pilot studies in controlled environments before GPS collars to ensure safety of the study species and validity of the collected data.