N/a’an Ku sê Carnivore Conservation Research Project
Mission: To conserve the land, cultures and wildlife of Namibia and rescue species threatened by an ever-shrinking habitat.
Species: Cheetah, leopard and brown hyena
Support started: 2012
Donating: £4,987 towards 4 GPS satellite collars and 12 months transmission fees
Background: Namibia is one of the few places in Africa, where 6 species of large carnivores occur, leopard, cheetah, lion, wild dog, brown and spotted hyena. One third of the entire cheetah population live in central Namibia, 95% of which live in unprotected areas which is where most leopards in Namibia also reside. These predators are often targeted and killed by farmers who perceive them to be a threat to their livestock, even though they cause relatively little damage. Cheetahs have been live-trapped and removed in parts of Namibia in the past, by landowners to protect their livestock. Increased conservation and education has seen these types of removal decline. Research currently indicates that cheetahs are responsible for 3% of livestock losses, but even with this information many landowners still see cheetahs as a problem animal.
Commercial farmland has a crucial role to play in the sustainable management and conservation of Namibia’s wildlife, so there is a great need to improve conflict mitigation measures. N/a’an Ku sê is one of the few projects dealing with cheetah-farmer conflict on commercial farmland. The project has 2 main aims, firstly to solve and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. This will be done by researching densities, ranges and territories of cheetahs, leopard and brown hyenas on farmland, and assisting farmers with their livestock management practices. Secondly the project wants to assess whether translocation and relocation is a suitable long-term solution in dealing with problem carnivores.
The project works closely with farmers across Namibia, who can contact the project if they identify a problem carnivore. To prevent farmers from killing these carnivores N/a’an Ku sê relocates them to safer conservation areas; NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namib Nauklift Park, Sandfontein Game Reserve and Solitaire. Before re-release the cheetahs and leopards are fitted with radio collars, allowing the project to check their movements and understand more on their ecology. N/a’an Ku sê is the first of its kind in Namibia translocating and releasing carnivores on a continuous and intensive basis.
Achievements: More than 70 predators have been or are currently undergoing rehabilitation. Almost 50 animals have now been relocated successfully, none of which have returned to their area of capture or into conflict post release. The animals released have established defined home ranges and successfully hunt. 2 cheetahs and a leopard have also successfully bred.
The project has also built trust with the local farming community and the project has seen improvement in farming practices including guard animals, kraaling and repellent application.
Future objectives: The project will continue with its relocating work and monitor those predators fitted with GPS collars. They are currently in the process of re-establishing cheetah populations in four conservation areas, where cheetah numbers are low. In addition to this work N/a’an Ku sê together with WildTrack are developing the first ever footprint ID software for wild cheetahs. This will potentially allow the identification of individual cheetahs from their footprints.
Picture of a cheetah being radio collar (c) N/a’an Ku sê Foundation
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