Visitors enlisted in cheetah census at S. Africa’s Kruger NP

Snap and save wild dog, cheetah
02/10/2008 14:05  – (SA)  
 
Sharon Hammond
 
Skukuza – Visitors are being urged to help count endangered cheetah and wild dogs in and around the Kruger National Park.
 
The park and Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Group (EWT-CCG) started the fifth Wild Dog and third Cheetah Photographic Census in August. It runs until April next year.
 
“Members of the public can provide valuable assistance to this project and stand a chance to win great prizes by submitting photographs of any wild dogs or cheetahs seen during their visit to the region,” said EWT-CCG manager Harriet Davies-Mostert.
 
Participants in the competition stand a chance to win two nights at Tinga Private Game Lodge.
 
The Kruger is home to one of the only viable wild dog and cheetah populations in South Africa.
 
Both animals are the rarest of the park’s large carnivores and their low densities and wide-ranging behaviour make them particularly difficult to count.
 
But researchers are able to recognise individuals of both species by their unique coat patterns, thus enabling an estimation of minimum population size.
 
Understanding population dynamics
 
Surveys have been held roughly every five years. Wild dog numbers have fluctuated between a peak of 434 in 1995 to a low of 120 in 2005.
 
The cheetah census began in 2005 when 103 individuals were identified.
 
Davies-Mostert said the census helps conservationists understand the two species’ population dynamics in the park and helps to develop national strategies to improve their conservation status.
 
Members of the public are encouraged to submit photographs of wild dogs and cheetahs they spot in the Kruger or neighbouring private nature reserves.
 
Photographic submissions should include details of the location, time and number of wild dogs or cheetahs seen.
 
Sightings can also be reported to field researcher Mariana Venter at the Census Hotline on 076 725 5242 or census@ewt.org.za.
 
Entry forms are available at all Kruger Park gates and rest camps.
 
The project is funded by the Howard G Buffett Foundation’s African Cheetah Initiative, while Land Rover South Africa provides vehicle support.
 
http://www.news24.com/News24/Technology/News/0,,2-13-1443_2403324,00.html
 
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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org
 
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