Monday, 6th of October 2008
By Wezi Tjaronda
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has started offering international courses on cheetah management practices.
Although many organisations have adopted CCF’s methods, until this year, there has not been a central source of information and training for wildlife conservation professionals.
In the past two months, the CCF brought together conservation biologists and community development officers from more than a dozen cheetah-range countries for the first international courses on cheetah management practices.
More than 30 conservationists from different countries such as Iran, Niger, Botswana and Kenya took part in the courses on integrated livestock and predator management and cheetah conservation biology to promote a unified and systematic approach to cheetah conservation. The courses focussed on building capacity to conserve cheetahs and their ecosystems.
Over the next three years, CCF will hold five more month-long training courses for conservation biology professionals. In addition, at least 120 community development officers/agriculture extension officers from cheetah range countries will be trained in two-week training courses held twice per year.
The two workshops were run in cooperation with the Howard G Buffett Foundation, the Cheetah Regional Strategic Planning partners and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park.
CCF has spent the past two decades developing integrated livestock and wildlife management methods and has fostered the formation of conservancies to benefit both people and wildlife.
Founder and Executive Director of CCF, Dr Laurie Marker, said by training a network of regional professionals collaborating on regional cheetah strategies, “the impact would expand from local pockets of protection dotting the cheetah’s range countries to much broader, far-reaching and inter-connected swaths”.
“Regionalising and unifying efforts will cause the conservation impact to be exponential,” she said.
Lectures included a wide variety of topics on how to collect and store biological samples of wild and captive cheetahs, how to conduct questionnaire surveys, veterinary techniques and sustainable animal production, the role of conservancies in achieving conservation goals, integrated management practices and kill identification, care of livestock guarding dogs as well as the use of various techniques for estimating and monitoring cheetah populations.
The participants visited the ‡Khoadi //Hoas Communal Conservancy in Damaraland for them to put theory into practice. CCF said the participants spoke to local subsistence farmers on human-wildlife conflict issues in the area.
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