Looking for cheetahs of Zimbabwe

Affected species : Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Vulnerable (IUCN 2008)

Localization : Zimbabwe

Partner Human community : farmers, schools, tourism industry, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPMWA)

Main objective : to participate to conservation of the cheetah of Zimbabwe, by developing research and educational tools and reinforcing local abilities.

Map of the worldwide distribution of cheetah’s population (in orange: resident population, in yellow, probably resident population) Source IUCN 2013

Monitoring the cheetah population in Zimbabwe via citizen science

Citizen science is defined as the voluntary participation of members of the public (citizen scientists) in research projects directed by professional scientists. Within cheetah research, citizen science is mostly used to opportunistically collect cheetah sightings and photographs from tourists, safari guides, rangers and others which is regarded as an efficient and cost effective way to assist with wide-ranging and long-term monitoring of cheetah populations. In addition, it provides a great opportunity to raise awareness and provide cheetah education.

Since the start of Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe (CCPZ) in 2012, the project has involved citizen scientists in the collection of cheetah sightings and photographs. CCPZ encourages citizen scientists to collect sightings and photographs through the use of sighting sheets/books at tourist offices and camps, posters, stickers, flyers, social media, e-mail, a website with an online sighting form and regular publications in popular media. Annually we receive ca. 300 cheetah sightings, and more than a thousand photographs. The cheetahs unique coat markings, make it possible to identify individuals from photographs and CCPZ currently has 104 identified cheetah in their data base.

Sightings and photographs allow us to monitor the cheetah populations in Zimbabwe and get an insight in demography and behaviour, which we can use to estimate population sizes and conduct viability assessments. The information collected is also used to map local, national and international distribution and get an insight in movement patterns.

An example of information collected via sightings and pictures: female cheetah HNP013 as a cub in Hwange National Park in 2011, with her first litter of three in 2014 and her second litter of five in 2016.

Proposing

training periods within this project on ecology and wildlife conservation to Zimbabwean students

 

 

Make an inventory

of the population of cheetah in Zimbabwe, set their number and spatial distribution

w

Sensibilise

Contribute to the development of educational and awareness-raising programs for the human communities about the part of wildlife and the ways of living with it.

U

Investigate

conflicts between cheetah and human activities and propose conflict solving solutions if needed and Identify the main threats that hang over the conservation of this species in this country

 

Project manager : Esther van der Meer, Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe (CCPZ) Director

HISA project manager : William Crosmary

Esther with a ZPMWA employee, pouring over field investigation results on cheetahs’ presence.

Members of CCZP Project go around Zimbabwe, meeting communities, to collect informations about cheetahs and evaluate conflicts they are involved in.

CCPZ Project spends some time on presenting cheetahs in school and villages. Most of the children and adults know few about them.

Cheetahs disappeared from 77% of their historical area of distribution in Africa. Less than 10 000 individuals remain in the wild. Zimbabwe is one of the rare countries including cheetah’s area of distribution.

Parks and wildlife protection Autority of Zimbabwe worries about its survival in the country and works on a conservancy plan.

Unfortunately, few informations are available on the amount of individuals in Zimbabwe, the state of the population and its distribution. Moreover, we don’t know much about threats that hang upon cheetahs, particularly in case of conflicts with human activites.

(English version coming soon !)

C’est là qu’intervient le projet Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe (CCPZ) créé en 2012 par le Dr. Esther van der Meer. Son mandat, avec l’aide aujourd’hui d’HISA, est de coordonner un grand inventaire national de la population de guépards, ainsi que d’autres carnivores. Cet inventaire consiste en l’établissement d’une base de données faite de photographies de guépards, de rapports d’observations, et de témoignages de villageois, de touristes, ou encore d’agents de la faune. Ces derniers aident aussi à déterminer si, et où, l’espèce est impliquée dans des conflits avec les populations humaines locales. Le cas échéant, cela permet d’identifier où l’effort de sensibilisation à la conservation du guépard, et de résolution du conflit, doit être mis.

The shape and distribution of black spots are characteristic of each cheetah. Like our fingerprints, these spots identify each individual.

Though, the photo database of CCPZ project builds up a real good inventory of the population in Zimbabwe.

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