Mara Meru Cheetah Project
In the 1970s there were about 15,000 cheetahs in Africa, while now the global wild cheetah population is estimated as low as 7,500 animals. The last significant populations remain in Southern (Namibia, Botswana, SA) and East Africa, wherein the South African and East African populations are represented by different subspecies.
In the past cheetahs were widely distributed across Kenya. However, over the years, due to human population increase that has led to loss of habitat, a reduction in prey base, and conflicts with people, diseases and poorly managed tourism, cheetah numbers have greatly reduced. Cheetahs are now resident in about 23% of their historical range in Kenya.
Cheetahs are considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN and are listed in CITES Appendix I. Preserving remaining populations is significant task now.
How to Take Part
Mara and Meru – are two regions of Kenya, where cheetahs experience different challenges and where their population status and behavioural adaptations remain a mystery. Maasai-Mara National Reserve (Mara) is world famous for its spectacular annual event – the Great Wildebeest Migration. The reserve is situated in the Rift Valley with Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains running along its southern border. Living on protected land, cheetahs here have to coexist with their natural enemies – hyenas and lions, at the same time to find their niche in an area crossed by dozens of cars in search of these magnificent animals.
Meru area is known for its two national parks – Meru and Kora, where Joy and Jorge Adamson were working on cheetah and lion re-wilding in 1960-80s. Little has been recorded about Meru cheetahs since.
This conservation area is one of the largest in the country (4000 km²), and significant part of it is covered by thick bush. Cheetahs here have to share territory with herders who graze their livestock within the parks and see carnivores as the major threat to their livelihood – domestic stock. It is unknown how many cheetahs reside in the area and how well they adapt to environmental change.
In the wild, cheetahs are characterized by temporary social structures (groups of siblings of the opposite sex) and permanent social structures (male coalitions). These social structures show a positive impact on the cheetahs’ survival in their natural habitat
Take Part in Cheetah Research
Apart from monitoring cheetahs in the field, we are collecting photographs of the Mara’s cheetahs from guides and guests so that we can track their movements within the Ecosystem.
To become a member of our field team, simply upload your pictures of cheetahs, as shown below, to the camp/lodge computer, or e-mail your images to us to: email@example.com together with your name and address, so we can tell you what is known about the cheetah you saw.
Our research will benefit from any photos of cheetahs taken in the Mara in 1999-2013 or Meru and Kora National Parks and Bisanadi National Reserve.
For more information log please visit www.marameru.org
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