Wildlife Tracking – Cheetah Monitoring

As a Cheetah volunteer you will be involved in essential Cheetah monitoring work. This is some of the most necessary work due to the meta-population of Cheetah being listed as Vulnerable, with a known global Cheetah population of approximately 7500 individuals spread across the Sahel and Southern, Eastern and Northern Africa.

Collared Cheetah Photo by Chantelle Melzer
Collared Cheetah. Photo by Chantelle Melzer

The South African Cheetah population is classified as Endangered and is comprised of a population of approximately 550 individuals. Over the last 30 years the Cheetah population has declined by a massive 30% – largely driven by habitat loss and fragmentation due to burgeoning human populations, persecution of Cheetah by livestock farmers and communities as they are deemed “problem causing” animals, and the hunting of Cheetah for the lucrative fur trade industry.

Cheetah monitoring and tracking involves the use of telemetry tracking equipment and hand-held GPS devices. It is also essential to produce Cheetah identification kits and set up and check camera traps. This allows our monitors and volunteers to collect valuable data to inform and enhance management objectives on the reserves.

Vets attending to a sedated cheetah. Photo by Chantelle Melzer
Wildlife vets attending to a sedated cheetah. Photo by Chantelle Melzer

Cheetah monitoring is essential for keeping track of movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, and snaring or poaching incidents. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT and our volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of priority wildlife species.

First Cheetah Collared in HiP
First Cheetah Collared in HiP

Wildlife ACT’s Cheetah volunteer projects are aimed at monitoring Cheetah populations which have been re-introduced to reserves, thereby providing an understanding of how we can better conserve these cats in protected areas within South Africa. This included the first cheetah to ever be collared on HiP in May 2016, providing even more detailed movement and habitat use data serving as a crucial tool for park management. The introduction of more cheetah to this population will require ongoing Cheetah monitoring in the years to come.