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Tracking devices

The vast majority (72%) of Metapopulation reserves utilise VHF collars. Most VHF collars are obtained from African Wildlife Tracking whilst a small number of reserves import VHF collars from Sirtrack (New Zealand). One reserve has obtained collars from Telonics (USA) whilst one Metapopulation reserve manufactures it own collars. Seven Metapopulation reserves complained that VHF collars obtained from African Wildlife Tracking (AWT) have irregular battery lives and that collars refurbished by AWT emitted signal for very short periods of time before failing completely. No reserves reported problems with collars obtained from Sirtrack except that they were considerably more expensive. Drop-off collars obtained from Sirtrack reportedly work very well. One reserve reported the use of telemetry darts and found that they work well on Cheetah but not on Lion.

Although six Metapopulation reserves have experimented with internal transponders, only two currently utilise use them as a tracking device. Reserves reportedly avoid their use due to poor signal or in some cases the complete lack of signal. One disturbing incident occurred when an internal transponder became dislodged inside a Metapopulation Cheetah resulting in its death. Only two Metapopulation reserves reported the use of GPS/GSM collars. The lack of cellular phone signal and the high costs associated with such devices prevented other reserves from acquiring GPS/GSM collars. Eighteen percent of Metapopulation reserves do not collar their Cheetah at all whilst one reserve utilises collars for initial monitoring only. No functioning collars were reported to be in use in the Kalahari cluster although approximately 40% of Metapopulation Cheetah are typically collared in the remaining four clusters.