Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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Our scat collection in Salama is going well. Nelson has nearly 150 samples. We will not know if it is all cheetah until he begins the analyses. He is adding DNA testing into his analysis program to assure that even the dry samples are really cheetah. This will be also serve to be a pilot for ongoing DNA studies to enable us to know the relationship between neighboring cheetahs and to know the importance of corridors for cheetah genetic exchange.
Every population of cheetah fluctuates as land-use, climate change, prey base and number of other predators also change. Cub survival rate can be as low as 3% as documented in the Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia. In Kenya we conducted the National Cheetah Survey in collaboration with KWS, the East African Wildlife Society and other local partners from 2004 through 2007. We mapped cheetah distribution and identified threats in each region. This study was the second national survey conducted in Kenya – the first being done by Paule Gros in the 1980's. Although our methods differed we have compared the distribution and estimated chetah population to find that distribution declined by 25% and numbers were still within similar range (Gros estimated between 1200 and 2500 while our estimates ranged from 1200 - 1800). We identified key conservation areas with the largest numbers of cheetahs and critical ranges to focus our efforts.
Nelson is proposing to re-evaluate the areas in order to use more detailed surveys in the critical areas to give us a better understanding of cheetah health and relationships. Dr. Elena Chelysheva will focus efforts on the Mara and Meru regions thus also adding expertise on cheetah social structure to assist Nelson with his studies.
Keep an eye on this site for more results from the scat studies and help us to secure the future of wild cheetahs in community and protected area landscapes.
Donations to Nelson's studies can be made through: http://www.cathaven.com/ProgramDetail.aspx?id=433
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