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Financial impact of Cheetah on Metapopulation reserves

Eight Metapopulation reserves have reported a definite negative financial impact by Cheetah on their reserves through the removal of the prey base. Two Kalahari reserves and one Eastern Cape reserve reported that their Cheetah are so skittish that they hardly contribute to the tourism experience. Cheetah were however not introduced for ecotourism purposes onto these reserves. Two Eastern Cape reserves attempted to quantify the costs of holding Cheetah on their properties. They reported that the value of prey consumed by Cheetah varies between R115 000 and R130 000 per cat per annum. Similar evaluations have not been carried out in other clusters.

Most Metapopulation reserves suggested that Cheetah have a positive financial impact as they constitute an additional large predator that enhances the tourism experience. Reserves with highly habituated Cheetah reportedly walk guests to within a short distance of them. Feedback suggests that tourists responded very well to these “Cheetah walks”. Although not recommended, one male Metapopulation Cheetah in the Eastern Cape became so habituated that he spends most of his time within the confines of the reserve lodge. He nevertheless hunts for himself and has fathered two litters of cubs. Surprisingly, only 13 percent of Metapopulation reserves reported the use of Cheetah as a marketing tool.

Cheetah mostly feed on ungulates that have lower financial value on the wildlife market. The removal of rare ungulates or those with high financial value is rare.