Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

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A good year for cheetah project

A good year for cheetah project

Cheetah mother with cubs
Cheetah mother with cubs
STEPHANIE PERIQUET

Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe has enjoyed a productive 2013. We received 364 sighting reports and 1,301 photographs, and thanks to this support we have identified 63 adult cheetah in the country.

We have been able to follow several cheetah via pictures; the most recent ones, a mother with three cubs in Hwange National Park, were first seen when the cubs were about 2-3 months old, and now, at the age of 18 months, they are ready to leave their mother.

Our questionnaire-based field survey in the northwest of Zimbabwe took most of our time. In April we started interviewing the first people close to home, in the Victoria Falls and Matetsi region. This gave us an opportunity to test our method. Once organised, we hit the road and travelled along the Zambezi River, visiting all the national parks, safari, forestry and Campfire areas.

Together with students from the National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe) we interviewed 419 people and collected information from scout patrol and human-wildlife conflict reports. In total we covered 8.1 million hectares of land. On a professional level, this enabled us to collect valuable data on cheetah and other carnivores. On a personal level, we have been able to see some of the most beautiful places in Zimbabwe and meet incredibly helpful people who, in the most remote areas of the country, are trying to protect the precious wildlife that is left.

The majority of the people we interviewed, 89%, were able to correctly identify a cheetah, and more than half of the people, 56%, had actually seen one. Conflict between humans and cheetahs is virtually nonexistent in the survey area, which is one of the reasons why 90% of people felt positive about the species.

Based on the collected information, we can conclude there are approximately 50-70 adult cheetah in the northwest region of Zimbabwe, most of which are part of two remaining viable cheetah populations; one in Hwange National Park and surrounding land, and one in Mana Pools National Park, with cheetah occasionally moving into neighbouring concessions. Although cheetah are still present in Matusadona National Park this population seems to be small and isolated.

In the year to come, we will expand our survey to the southwest of Zimbabwe, an area with historically high cheetah numbers. We are looking forward to finding out their current status in this part of the country and hope you will continue to support our work by sending us your cheetah sightings at cheetah@cheetahzimbabwe.org.

For more information about the project follow them on facebook here CheetahZimbabwe.

You can download a pdf copy of their 2013 Annual Report here.

More from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (December 2013)

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Kariba & Middle Zambezi Destination Profile

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