css menu builder by Css3Menu.com

Population decline and current shortage of Cheetah available for reintroduction (as of June 2012)

Only 44% of Metapopulation reserves are content with the current number of Cheetah on their properties (Table 7.). Fourteen reserves would like to acquire more Cheetah whilst a further six reserves are keen to reintroduce and join the Metapopulation project. Three Metapopulation reserves are unsure of current numbers of Cheetah on their properties. One of these reserves does not have the logistical capacity to monitor their Cheetah and the other two reserves have free roaming Cheetah regularly moving though, therefore preventing accurate numbers from being obtained. Only five Metapopulation reserves currently have a surplus of Cheetah. Unfortunately Cheetah are only attainable from one of these five reserves as:
• two reserves attach a financial value to their Cheetah and are unwilling to make them available without charge.
• the surplus Cheetah on one reserve are too young to be moved.
• one reserve has surplus animals but they are wild and uncollared. It is expected that there will be major logistical difficulties involved in attempting to catch them.

Table 7. Population status on individual reserves and plans for expansion of the Metapopulation project.

This implies that there is currently a major backlog of Cheetah in the Metapopulation. Information collected from all Metapopulation reserves and reserves that would like to reintroduce Cheetah indicate that there is currently a shortage of 39 Cheetah in the Metapopulation. More alarmingly the Cheetah Metapopulation has decreased by 9.3% in the past six months (1st January - 31st July 2012). This situation has come about due to:

  • the high proportion of reserves (29%) that currently posses only a single sex of Cheetah.
  • contraception. Almost 7% of reserves contracept their Cheetah.
  • the heavily skewed sex ratio in the Metapopulation (49% adult males).
  • the unavailability of Cheetah from outside sources. Cheetah are no longer available from the free roaming population or Namibia.
  • the sale of Cheetah into captivity. More than 30% of Cheetah moved off of Metapopulation reserves in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are sold into captivity (Figures 16 & 17).

The situation can only be rectified through drastic management action and full collaboration from all Metapopulation reserves and permitting officials. The Metapopulation will have to increase by 19.1% in the next year to fill the current backlog of Cheetah. Current population trends suggest that the Metapopulation is decreasing by 21% per year. This situation can be reversed by:

  • Ensuring that more reserves accommodate both sexes of Cheetah.
  • Putting an immediate end to contraception programs, particularly in reserves that have other higher order predator that will naturally control Cheetah numbers.
  • Working with government to implement legislation that completely bans the movement of wild Cheetah into captivity. In the interim, permitting officials will be informed of the impact of moving wild Cheetah into captivity. The serious ethical and welfare issues associated with moving wild Cheetah into captivity will also be highlighted.
  • Reducing the amount of Cheetah deaths due to anthropogenic factors (currently at 26%) by implementing the following management actions:
    1. Ensuring the Metapopulation reserves utilise only vets with suitable predator experience. Numerous Cheetah have died in transit due to immobilisation complications. In some cases the incorrect drugs such as Zolatol were utilised. Only a combination of Metetomadine and Ketamine should be utilised when darting Cheetah.
    2. Managing Cheetah within clusters to reduce the amount of deaths during transit. Complications often arise when moving Cheetah over considerable distances.

Since Cheetah are no longer available from outside sources the Metapopulation needs to become self sustaining. It can only become self sustaining if the above management actions are implemented. For these actions to be implement the Cheetah Metapopulation Project will require full collaboration from all Metapopulation reserves and local conservation authorities. Population Viability Analyses carried out in Vortex v9.98. (Lacy 2009) suggest that the Cheetah Metapopulation in South Africa faces a high risk of extinction within the next 100 years if drastic management action is not taken (pers. com. K. Buk).

Include graph showing population decline over past 9 months - waiting for reserve updates to ensure correct figures given. Response so far from only 15 reserve. Rest will be phoned