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Charlene Bissett: Post Doctoral Fellow, Wildlife & Reserve Management Research Group, Rhodes University.

Space use and feeding ecology of large carnivores in small, fenced reserves: Case study of cheetahs and brown hyaenas in Mountain Zebra National Park.

Overall, data on cheetah and brown hyaena behaviour in enclosed systems is lacking and it is likely that this study will contribute significantly to our overall knowledge and conservation of these two threatened species. Recent studies have shown that cheetahs are more adaptable than previously thought (Bissett & Bernard 2007) and this study in a rocky mountous area will further add to the data on cheetah adaptability in various environments. The broad aims of this research are to study the functioning of large carnivores recently re-introduced into a relatively small, enclosed system and to monitor and test planned management interventions. The first focus area will be on the space use and habitat utilisation of the cheetahs and brown hyaenas. The second focus will be on the feeding ecology (diet and prey selection) of these large carnivores. Lions were re-introduced into MZNP in 2013 and hence a master’s student (Daniel van de Vyver) has joined the carnivore project. He is mainly focusing on the effects of the lion re-introduction on the resident cheetah population in the Park with a special focus on the influence of the lions on the spatial ecology and diet of the cheetahs.

Charlene can be contacted at c.bissett@ru.ac.za or 0836617291

Kenneth Buk: PhD candidate, Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology.

Conservation Biology of Cheetahs in a network of reintroduced populations

In 35 years the number of wild cheetahs on the planet have declined from 20 000 to 7 500. Loss of prey base and persecution by owners of livestock and game are main causes. For tourism and conservation cheetahs have been reintroduced into about 50 fenced reserves in South Africa holding a growing number of cheetahs now exceeding 300, compared to 525-675 free ranging cheetahs occurring along the Northern border of South Africa. This research aims to provide scientific information for management of the fenced populations as one meta-population by analysing existing data from the reserves. Amongst the issues addressed will be demography, carrying capacity, metapopulation viability under various management scenarios, large predator competition and avoidance and habitat suitability.

Ken can be contacted at:kenbuk@kenbuk.comor +27 72 262 1919.

Hayley Clements: MSc candidate, Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Refining carnivore prey selection patterns and carrying capacity models: The influence of predator hunting group and prey demographics on cheetah prey preference in southern Africa

Hayley is studying cheetah prey preferences in southern Africa – accounting for what sex/age of prey cheetah prefer to eat, as well as differences in preference between the different cheetah hunting groups (coalitions, solitary males, females). From these preferences she hopes to produce a useable carrying capacity guideline for cheetah in small reserves. She is sourcing cheetah kill datasets from around southern Africa in order to make the model as applicable as possible.
Hayley can be contacted at: clementshayley@gmail.com or +27 49 892 3275.