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Cheetah work in progress

Cheetah work in progress

Cheetah mother with cubs
Cheetah mother with cubs
Jealous Mpofu

For the past two months Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe has been on the road conducting a questionnaire based survey around Victoria Falls, Matetsi and HwangeNational Park. Together with our students from the National University of Science and Technology we interviewed National Parks and Forestry Commission staff, hunters, safari guides, anti- poaching scouts, village heads and others in the field.

We asked people about cheetah occurrence, knowledge of cheetah, conflict and attitude towards this spotted carnivore. Some 9,000 km and 190 interviews later we can conclude that cheetah are present in most of the area, do not cause any conflict problems, and seem to be a popular species.

The majority of the people we interviewed, 78%, had seen a cheetah in their area. Most, 96%, were able to identify a cheetah from a picture and correctly answered questions about the animal’s speed, diet and distribution. Although livestock attacks by cheetah seem to be virtually none-existent in the survey area, as many as 50% of the respondents incorrectly thought cheetah often attack livestock.

Nevertheless, 92% felt positive about cheetah and 86% would like to have more cheetah in their area. People like cheetah because they are a rare and beautiful species (32%) that they would like to see (12%), attracts tourists (10% ), and is not dangerous to people or livestock (15% ).

On top of the 263 cheetah sightings we received out of the area in the past 18 months, we were able to collect an additional 226 recent sightings during our survey. We now know of 31 adults and 7 cubs in the survey area.

We will continue our survey and travel towards Chizarira, Matusadona and ManaPoolsNational Park. Interested members of public can follow our field adventures via Facebook, and are invited to support the project by sending in any information about cheetah sightings, with or without pictures.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, Sept 2013)

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
A good year for cheetah project (ZT15, Dec 2013)
Cheetah work in progress (ZT14, Sept 2013)
Cheetah project: early results (ZT11, Dec 2012)
Spot the difference... (ZT10, Sept 2012)

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe