Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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Working in Athi-Kapiti
We all know that each population of cheetahs is not living in isolation. One theory of population dynamics is the “source-sink theory”. There are certain populations which supply the area and recruitment into the sink continues to occur. However, if the source is destroyed the surrounding population will reach extinction. It is often the case with cheetah populations that the areas where there is an abundance of larger predators (lion, leopard, hyena) becomes the sink. Cheetahs need an area to successfully breed and raise cubs in order to continue to supply the sink.
We know the cheetahs successfully raise cubs in the Salama area, but we are not certain where the adults go once they reach independence. We have at least two groups of males that have begun claiming territory in between settlement areas. In order to better understand the population dynamics of the Salama ecosystem we have now partnered with the Athi-Kapiti Cheetah Project (AKCP) headed by Michael Mbithi and directed/funded by Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect.
We have worked with AKCP for nearly a year now, training staff on data collection and determining the research strategies for the area. Students coming in to work with ACK will be using he AKCP site as their control – while the Salama study site is now primarily subsistence farming, the AKCP area is primarily commercial ranchland. Also the Salama study area is thicker schrub and woodland whereas the AKCP is open schrug and savannah. We are very excited about this partnership and look forward to sharing more about cheetah adaptations in the near future.
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