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Habitat Preference

Questionnaire data collected from reserve managers suggest that habitat is not a limiting factor for cheetah presence at a large scale. Metapopulation Cheetah have been observed in Zululand Sand Forest, thick riverine vegetation, rocky outcrops, Eastern Cape thicket, Karroid shrubland, cleared agricultural land, high mountainous grasslands covered with snowfall and areas heavily invaded by exotic vegetation. Questionnaire data from all clusters suggest that female Cheetahs prefer thicker vegetation whilst males are more regularly observed in open areas. In reserves with any form of mountainous habitat, females are often observed moving into these areas when they have cubs.

Metapopulation reserves are located in six of the nine plant biomes in South Africa (Mucina and Rutherford 2006) as indicated in Table 4. Cheetah appear to adapt well when relocated to reserves in different biomes. Plant biomes which do not contain Metapopulation reserves include Forests, the Desert Biome and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt. Historical records indicate that Cheetah did previously occur in the Desert Biome of South Africa (Skead 1980).

Table 4. Metapopulation reserves and their plant biomes.