Faster Than Life? How Cheetahs Cope With Relocation

Study cheetah sprinting at full pelt. (Copyright: Courtesy of Jack Somerville)

Post submitted by BCI Grantee Florian J Weise.

The world is getting smaller as more and more people put pressure on wildlife habitats. This is particularly true for large predators that require vast areas. Africa’s fastest big cat, the charismatic cheetah, can outrun its prey and Usain Bolt without trouble, but it cannot outrun human impacts.

Study cheetah sprinting at full pelt (Copyright: Courtesy of Jack Somerville).

Imagine being trapped in a cage without warning.

Suspected conflict cheetah trapped on farming property (Copyright: Courtesy of Kate Echement).

Someone comes and drugs you, attaches a weird necklace, puts you in yet another box and travels you for hours.The doors of that box open and you find yourself in an unknown place.

Female cheeta Aju59 released from transport crate (Copyright: Courtesy of Femke Spoor)
Female cheeta Aju59 released from transport crate (Copyright: Courtesy of Femke Spoor).

Different language, different smell, different sound, unknown people. Life just changed dramatically, but here’s your second chance. You take a last look backband dart off into a new and uncertain future.

Collared male cheetah released into southwestern Namibia (Copyright: Courtesy of Christopher James Painter)
Collared male cheetah released into southwestern Namibia (Copyright: Courtesy of Christopher James Painter).

Such relocations (or translocations) are often tried to save conflict cheetahs and to appease problems with farmers. However, these actions are rarely evaluated comprehensively. Our lack of knowledge is somewhat surprising because conservation supporters (like the Big Cats Initiative), researchers, government wildlife departments and landowners would like to know whether relocations work to reduce problems while safeguarding Africa’s most endangered cats effectively.

With support from National Geographic Society’s BCI, the researchers of N/a’an ku se Foundation in Namibia (http://www.naankuse.com/wildlife-conservation/carnivore-conservation.html) tested relocations and monitored them through GPS-satellite and intensive field tracking for several years. Namibia still —> Read More

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