Cheetah Conservation Botswana

To conserve cheetahs in Botswana by means of research, community outreach and environmental education

 

The Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is Africa's most endangered big cat. Cheetah populations are dramatically declining. The species is now threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat and prey, a diminishing gene pool and human persecution.


Botswana contains one of the largest remaining populations of free ranging cheetahs in the world. In 1998 it was estimated at 1768 individuals (Funston et al 2000), this represents 12% of the world population. Identifying Botswana as one of the last strongholds of the species. However, populations are not safe within protected areas as they are outcompeted by stronger predators. The cheetahs then move out onto marginal land where they come into conflict with rural communities. Neither protected reserves or captive management can be relied upon to support viable populations of the species. (Marker et al 1996). Long term survival is dependent on conservation management of agricultural zones. (Winterbach 2001, National Predator Strategy).


Despite being listed as a species threatened with extinction under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and vulnerable by the IUCN, no formalised studies have ever been done and little is known about the status of the cheetah in Botswana. CCB was set up in 2003 to address the need for a conservation program focused on this endangered cat. The project works to ensure the survival of the cheetah through scientific research, rural community education and participation, and promotion of alternative, non-lethal predator control methods and appropriate livestock management.

 

Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) is a long term multidisciplinary project incorporating practical conservation, scientific research, community participation and education. We are carrying out a nationwide survey to assess the status of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), focusing on their role in livestock/predator conflicts. Identifying priority areas, to which we focus education and information programmes on predator ecology, non lethal methods of predator control and appropriate livestock management. Encouraging rural communities to view their wildlife as a valuable national resource to be protected. The cheetah acts as a flagship species for the biodiversity of these areas.


CCB are carrying out research into cheetah behaviour, home ranges, density, disease and genetics, at their field camp in the Southern Kalahari. Botswana cheetah, have never been studied formally before so this is the first study of its kind. Cheetahs are collared for telemetry studies. Camera traps are utilized and tracking transects made to assess density. Samples are taken from captured cheetahs to gather information on disease and genetics status.


CCB conduct an educational outreach programme to inform rural communities about the importance of predators. They make visits to affected communities to assess their problems and offer solutions. Providing them with information on appropriate farm management and non lethal methods of predator control. CCB encourage active participation from the communities, and also provide educational booklets to schools to learn about these issues and conduct awareness raising talks and predator workshops throughout Botswana.


CCB network with other cheetah groups internationally to provide the Botswana perspective to the global understanding of these delicate predators and are part of the Global Cheetah Forum under the IUCN.


WAZA Conservation Project 05023
is supported by the Banham Zoo, Suffolk Wildlife Park (UK), Columbus Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Toledo Zoo , Tulsa Zoo (US), New South Wales Zoological Association, as well as by Wildlife Conservation Network, the Howard Buffet Foundation, IdeaWild; WILD Foundation, Rufford Small Grants, Project Survival, and Flora and Fauna International.

 

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