Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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Cheetah Bait Project
Jambo! My name is Erica Hermsen and I am a master’s student from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire USA. I have partnered with ACK for my MS thesis research to determine if there is a specific bait type that is effective at luring cheetahs to traps. Cheetahs living outside of protected areas have learned to avoid humans and are very elusive, making them difficult to capture. It is important for ACK to trap cheetahs in order to deploy radio-collars for conservation research. The current method for trapping cheetahs is the use of a live goat as bait. Unfortunately, a live goat lures other opportunistic predators to trapping sites more often than the cheetah. My research will analyze alternate baiting methods with the hope of finding a lure which increases the likelihood of trapping cheetahs and minimizes disturbance from other predators.
I currently have six bait stations set up throughout ACK’s Salama and Athi-Kapiti study areas. Each station is equipped with four camera-traps and one of the following bait types: commercially available perfume, home-made perfume, soiled cheetah bedding, a predator decoy, a robotic goat, and a live goat (control). The bait stations have been active for just two weeks, and I’m already getting interesting data! Photographs from the cameras show that, at least so far, hyenas are most attracted to the live goat. Jackals, impala, and gerenuk have also been photographed at bait stations. Who knew impala would be so interested in classy perfume?
This study will last 12 weeks total, and I know we’ll make very interesting findings through this novel research. Check back for updates!
To learn more about my research or to make a donation, please visit http://www.petridish.org/projects/here-kitty-kitty-luring-cheetahs-for-c....
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