Monday, April 20, 2009

Tsavo Cheetah Project

The Tsavo National Parks, in south eastern Kenya, are probably most renowned for the notorious, mane-less, man-eating lions of the late nineteenth century… or even the numerous ‘red elephants’ covered in red dust from the sands which blanket the grounds of the vast, bio-diversity rich Tsavo ecosystem.

But if you come to Tsavo, she will soon show you, if you are here long enough: solid black spots glimmering in between the grass blades of the savanna, a glimpse of large copper eyes peering through a Commophora bush, or a distinctive footprint of a cat with claw marks – that of the elusive cheetah (or duma, in the Swahili language). Currently, approximately 200 cheetahs (1/4 of Kenya’s total cheetah population) are suspected to occupy the Tsavo ecosystem which covers an area of 40,000 square kilometers. But if we are to preserve this large, potentially viable population we must first obtain reliable information on numbers, distribution, conservation status and threats.

The Tsavo Cheetah Project was initiated in August 2008, after three years of preliminary work. The primary aims of this initial 4 year study are to: 1) Determine cheetah numbers and population threats in the vast and unfenced Tsavo National Parks, adjoining communities, ranches and sanctuaries. 2) Alleviate conflict issues between people and cheetahs with education and awareness. 3) Test and further develop cheetah monitoring and census techniques. Continue here..