Cheetah Research and Conservation
To study and promote the survival of cheetahs in Zimbabwe
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.
Zimbabwean cheetah have a paradoxical status, on one hand it is a protected endangered species, important to the global metapopulation and on the other hand, it is considered vermin by sections of the farming community. In 2000, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority sought MZT's assistance to investigate the level of perceived threats to the cheetah population resulting from conflict with farmers, to provide suitable educational material to land owners and to determine cheetah numbers in areas outside of the Parks estate. The information gained will enable an appropriate science based management plan to be produced and implemented as soon as possible.
WAZA Conservation Project 05019 is implemented by Marwell Zimbabwe Trust (MZT) and supported by Paignton Zoo and Environmental Park and Marwell Zoological Park, Colchester Zoo, (UK), San Antonio Zoo, Tulsa Zoo USA), and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, in partnership with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Global Cheetah Forum.
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