The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) can be defined as one of the most endangered species of large predator within Africa. Very little was known about the cheetah population within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR), we therefore conducted a series of studies on the cheetahs within the Reserve, designed to evaluate the:

  • Abundance of cheetahs, via a photographic survey;
  • Genetic variability of the population, through collection of faecal samples for subsequent DNA extraction and sequencing; and
  • Home range requirements and spatial utilisation of cheetahs within the reserve.

The research project is a joint-collaboration with the Ajubatus Foundation, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the TPNR and South African National Parks, with funding donated kindly by both John Dyer (Ajubatus Foundation) and Paul Levey (Makanyi Lodge/White’s Avoca).

About the study:
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, cheetahs are classified as vulnerable, with an approximate 7500 known adult cheetahs remaining. The total population is not expected to surpass 10 000 adult animals [2]. The global population has therefore suffered a decrease of around 90% over the last 100 years, with Africa and Asia combined comprising an estimated 100,000 cheetahs in 1900 [3].

The majority of the remaining population is classified as “free-roaming”, falling outside the boundaries of reserves and other protected areas [4]. For this reason, the existing populations that are currently protected within nature reserves, as well as data relating to their status within those areas is crucial to the survival of the species in the long term.

The project operated over a 12 month period in 2010, following on into early 2011. We hope to repeat the project every four/five years to coincide with the Kruger National Park (KNP) cheetah census, thereby providing further information and a broader understanding with regards to the population within the Greater Kruger area.