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Friends of Conservation
60, Strand,
London, WC2N 5LR
Tel: 020 3667 7017
Email: focinfo@aol.com

Cheetah

The world's fastest land animal, the cheetah, is the most unique and specialized member of the cat family and can reach speeds of 70 mph. However, the sleek and long-legged cheetah is losing its race for survival. Once a common animal found on five continents, the cheetah is now an endangered species.

FOC supports the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in their efforts to conserve cheetahs and their habitat. The CCF was founded in 1990 by Dr Laurie Marker and is dedicated to saving the cheetah from extinction. The CCF helped establish the Waterberg Conservancy, an area of 440,000 acres of private farmland where groups of neighbouring farmers jointly manage their natural resources and game to ensure long term conservation of the land. To read more about CCF and Dr Laurie Marker’s work, please click here.
The Conservancy allows wildlife, including cheetahs, to move freely across the land. CCF recognised that in order to help the cheetah, it was first necessary to understand them, their physiology, environment and their movement patterns and range.

As a result, a few years ago, CCF instigated one of the most intensive radio tracking projects seen in Africa so far. As part of CCF’s programme to determine the moving patterns and home range (i.e. an area used by an individual animal to find food, a mate and care for their young), an area of commercial cattle and wildlife farms, spanning nearly 18,000km2 was chosen as a study area. 42 cheetahs were fitted with radio collars (27 males and 15 females) and tracked over a three year period.

Dr Marker found that relative to those studied anywhere else, Namibian cheetahs have the largest home range, averaging 1,056km2 annually to 1,642km2 over a lifetime (3 times larger than the cheetahs found on the Serengeti). Ranges were found to be significantly smaller in the wet season (as food was more easily available) and that the animals intensively used 13% of their entire range. The average distance moved per day varied between the sexes, social groups and those with cubs. Single males travelled the furthest, with extreme weekly recordings of up to 40km.
Cheetahs are not generally found close together in great numbers. Loss of habitat and a limited geographical range (a small area in which to live) threaten the cheetah's survival. Low survivorship (few cheetahs live long or do not become adults) also affects cheetahs and makes them more vulnerable to human competition. High cub mortality (which can be up to 90% in the wild), makes it difficult for the cheetah to recover when its population size decreases.

The CCF continues with its research into the physiology and genetics of the cheetah. The Research and Education Centre includes a veterinary clinic, a reproductive physiology laboratory and extensive holding facilities for orphaned and injured cheetah.


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