Cheetah Conservation Botswana

Gaborone, Botswana

Cheetah Conservation Botswana

Gaborone, Botswana
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Johnson S.,Queensland University of Technology | Mengersen K.,Queensland University of Technology | de Waal A.,South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research | Marnewick K.,Carnivore Conservation Group | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2010

Relocation is one of the strategies used by conservationists to deal with problem cheetahs in southern Africa. The success of a relocation event and the factors that influence it within the broader context of long-term viability of wild cheetah metapopulations was the focus of a Bayesian Network (BN) modelling workshop in South Africa. Using a new heuristics, Iterative Bayesian Network Development Cycle (IBNDC), described in this paper, several networks were formulated to distinguish between the unique relocation experiences and conditions in Botswana and South Africa. There were many common underlying factors, despite the disparate relocation strategies and sites in the two countries. The benefit of relocation BNs goes beyond the identification and quantification of the factors influencing the success of relocations and population viability. They equip conservationists with a powerful communication tool in their negotiations with land and livestock owners, which is key to the long-term survival of cheetahs in southern Africa. Importantly, the IBNDC provides the ecological modeller with a methodological process that combines several BN design frameworks to facilitate the development of a BN in a multi-expert and multi-field domain. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PubMed | Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe, Heritage Foundation, Environment General Authority EGA, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and 27 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2016

Establishing and maintaining protected areas (PAs) are key tools for biodiversity conservation. However, this approach is insufficient for many species, particularly those that are wide-ranging and sparse. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus exemplifies such a species and faces extreme challenges to its survival. Here, we show that the global population is estimated at 7,100 individuals and confined to 9% of its historical distributional range. However, the majority of current range (77%) occurs outside of PAs, where the species faces multiple threats. Scenario modeling shows that, where growth rates are suppressed outside PAs, extinction rates increase rapidly as the proportion of population protected declines. Sensitivity analysis shows that growth rates within PAs have to be high if they are to compensate for declines outside. Susceptibility of cheetah to rapid decline is evidenced by recent rapid contraction in range, supporting an uplisting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List threat assessment to endangered. Our results are applicable to other protection-reliant species, which may be subject to systematic underestimation of threat when there is insufficient information outside PAs. Ultimately, conserving many of these species necessitates a paradigm shift in conservation toward a holistic approach that incentivizes protection and promotes sustainable human-wildlife coexistence across large multiple-use landscapes.

Boast L.K.,Cheetah Conservation Botswana | Boast L.K.,University of Cape Town | Houser A.M.,Cheetah Conservation Botswana | Houser A.M.,University of Pretoria | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2013

Body size affects almost every aspect of the biology of a species, with considerable intraspecific variation. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) reportedly vary in body size across their geographical range. However, because morphometric measurements were not taken in a standardized manner, it is impossible to rule out differences in measurement protocols as the cause. Our study differed from previous ones in that we made use of a standardized methodology for taking morphometric measurements in cheetahs. Free-ranging cheetahs in Namibia were shorter (3.5-4.1%) and slimmer (4.0-7.0%) than those in neighboring Botswana. Cheetah density was more than 3 times higher and home-range sizes were more than 3 times smaller in Botswana compared to Namibia. This suggests that variation in resource availability may be the main driver of the fine-scale spatial differences in morphometric measurements. Overall, our study promotes the use of standardized protocols for measuring morphological traits in free-ranging animals. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists.

Houser A.,Cheetah Conservation Botswana | Houser A.,University of Pretoria | Gusset M.,University of Oxford | Bragg C.J.,University of Cape Town | And 2 more authors.
South African Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2011

The rehabilitation of orphaned animals is commonly practiced but rarely scientifically documented. The behavioural development before release (e.g. regarding hunting skills) is particularly important for ensuring animals are self-sustaining after release. We document the rehabilitation and release of three confiscated cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) cubs and one leopard (Panthera pardus) cub, which were taken from the wild in Botswana. The animals were raised with minimal human contact and the development of their hunting skills was observed and assisted by limited pre-release training. After release, all animals were monitored and data showed they successfully hunted, with behavioural patterns similar to wild conspecifics. All established stable home ranges at the release site. Home ranges of the cheetahs ranged from 44 to 121 km 2, travelling primarily during the early morning and evening, ranging from 4.5 to 9.4 km/day. While the leopard survived and probably reproduced within a stable home range (449 km 2), all three cheetahs were shot within 7 months of release. Therefore, although orphaned large felids can successfully hunt after release using appropriate rehabilitation techniques, they face the same humancarnivore conflicts of their wild counterparts. Our study demonstrates the indispensable but commonly neglected need for post-release monitoring in wildlife rehabilitation.

Boast L.K.,Cheetah Conservation Botswana | Boast L.K.,University of Cape Town | Houser A.M.,Cheetah Conservation Botswana | Houser A.M.,University of Pretoria
South African Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2012

Accurate estimates of predator densities are important for the conservation management of large predator populations. Predator densities outside of protected areas are often understudied and management decisions are based on assumptions of predator numbers. This study conducted three spoor surveys on commercial farmland in Botswana to estimate large predator densities. Brown hyaenas (Hyaena brunnea) were found to occur evenly across both cattle and game farms at higher densities than previously assumed. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and leopards (Panthera pardus) were more commonly located on game ranches, at or below population density assumptions. This study demonstrated the importance but difficulties of conducting predator surveys on farmland, where study animals are often at risk of persecution by landowners, due to the perceived or real threat predators may pose to livestock and stocked game.

PubMed | University of Pretoria and Cheetah Conservation Botswana
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2015

Prey availability and human-carnivore conflict are strong determinants that govern the spatial distribution and abundance of large carnivore species and determine the suitability of areas for their conservation. For wide-ranging large carnivores such as cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), additional conservation areas beyond protected area boundaries are crucial to effectively conserve them both inside and outside protected areas. Although cheetahs prefer preying on wild prey, they also cause conflict with people by predating on especially small livestock. We investigated whether the distribution of cheetahs preferred prey and small livestock biomass could be used to explore the potential suitability of agricultural areas in Botswana for the long-term persistence of its cheetah population. We found it gave a good point of departure for identifying priority areas for land management, the threat to connectivity between cheetah populations, and areas where the reduction and mitigation of human-cheetah conflict is critical. Our analysis showed the existence of a wide prey base for cheetahs across large parts of Botswanas agricultural areas, which provide additional large areas with high conservation potential. Twenty percent of wild prey biomass appears to be the critical point to distinguish between high and low probable levels of human-cheetah conflict. We identified focal areas in the agricultural zones where restoring wild prey numbers in concurrence with effective human-cheetah conflict mitigation efforts are the most immediate conservation strategies needed to maintain Botswanas still large and contiguous cheetah population.

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