Ongoing collaboration with scientists and the conservation authorities and working closely with the farming community allows for studies to be conducted that provide valuable information on large carnivores and their long-term conservation in Namibia.
AfriCat has been involved in a number of studies involving the cheetahs at AfriCat, as well as the cheetahs and leopards captured on farmland.
Studies Involving the Cheetahs at AfriCat
The annual health examinations of the cheetahs at AfriCat give invited specialist veterinarians the opportunity to conduct research a various aspects of animal health, particularly those relating to the health of large carnivores in captivity. As well as providing expert information on the health of AfriCat’s animals, the examinations also allow for the comparison of results with similar studies being conducted on large carnivores in other captive facilities. Some of this information can also be used to gain insight into the health of large carnivores in the wild.
AfriCat HQ Carnivore Clinic @ Okonjima
AfriCat’s Work with Cheetahs and Leopards on Farmland
The data that is collected from each animal that moves through the AfriCat programme is recorded in a database that allows for easy access to information either on a particular cat or when providing statistics on these carnivores to researchers around the world.
The data from the captured cheetahs and leopards, i.e. where each animal was captured, its characteristics, such as gender, age, etc., gives us some idea as to the geographical distribution and demographics of the wild cheetah and leopard populations living on Namibian farmland
The biological samples (blood, serum and hair) can be used for various studies with analysis results potentially giving us insight into the health, as well as the genetic make-up of Namibia’s wild cheetah and leopard populations.
In order to measure the long-term success of the Rescue and Release Programme, AfriCat will be conducting a research project to monitor some of the cheetahs and leopards after their release to establish their movements and survival rates. This will assist us in determining to what extent they are returning to their original territories, establishing new territories and how long they survive; therefore effectively contributing to the growth of the wild populations of their species. This study is due to start in the next couple of months.
AfriCat is participating in a study looking at the population density of leopards in Namibia. The study is being conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Large Carnivore Management Forum (LCMAN). LCMAN is a forum made up of government and non-government organisations involved in the conservation of large carnivores in Namibia.
AfriCat North – Lion Research and Monitoring Programmes
AfriCat North (then Afri-Leo) assisted with the Etosha Lion Project which was conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism within Etosha. The first monitoring project (which commenced in 2001) was aimed at monitoring cross-border lion movement and lion mortalities, assessing the potential disease threat to lions from outside of the Park and helping reduce and mitigate the farmer-lion conflict.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, AfriCat North assisted with a Farmer-Predator Survey, including approximately 40 commercial farms along the southern boundary of the Etosha National Park.
AfriCat North will be participating in the Etosha Boundary Lion Project which is due to start this year. This study will look at lion trans-boundary movements along the borders of the Park.
The research includes studies on:
- Reversible, safe contraception in captive felids at AfriCat. (download PDF) by Prof. Henk Bertschinger
- Deslorelin Reproduction Supplement (Induction of contraception in some African wild carnivores by downregulation of LH and FSH secretion using the GnRH analogue deslorelin). (download PDF) by Prof. Henk Bertschinger
- Control of reproduction and sex related behavior in exotic, wild carnivores with the GnRH analogue deslorelin. (download PDF) by Prof. Henk Bertschinger
- Detection of feline CORONAVIRUS infection in southern African nondomestic felids (download PDF) by Prof. Henk Bertschinger
- The incidence of gastric ulceration and the presence of Helicobacter spp. in cheetahs at AfriCat.
- Feline Coronavirus in African cheetah populations. (download PDF)
- Post-vaccinal titres of antibodies against Anthrax.
- Ocular abnormalities in cheetahs at AfriCat. (download PDF)
- Comparative animal behaviour and management of captive populations.
Other research studies conducted at AfriCat or including AfriCat's assistance:
Other interesting AfriCat studies | news | statements | notes:
- See: Contraception in Wildlife by Dr Henk Berschinger
The ideal contraceptive for wildlife should have no side effects. It should be safe, also in pregnant females, have minimal effects on behaviour, should not pass through the food chain, be affordable and delivery should be easy – ideally allow remote delivery. In many cases a reversible method is preferable to permanent methods so that animals can breed again at a later stage.
- See: Rescue & Release. Does it work? By Dr Mark Jago
If the suitable prey base is high an area may be able to support a reasonable number of carnivores, but if the prey base is low, the number of predators will also be low or leave the area completely. Prey will move with the rainfall. An area with much game today, can become all but devoid tomorrow if the rains fail to come.
- See: Penta and Cubs - The Quandary of Rescue and Release Penta and her five cubs arrived at AfriCat in December 2012. It was initially decided to relocate them to a wilderness area in the north-west of Namibia called Damaraland (Kunene Region). For the first time in our history of cheetah rescue and release/relocation, an independent farming community from a wilderness area was willing to allow a cheetah in the area even with livestock around; this was great news, but then complications arose . . . .
- See: Applications of Technology in the Conservation and Counter-Conservation World.
Technology has come a long way over the last couple of decades; appearing to progress at an ever increasing rate, it is hard to keep abreast of the latest advances in phones, laptops, cameras or TVs. Not only are new products being developed, the application of these products in a growing number of fields and scenarios is escalating, with surprising uses and innovative problem solving visible in perhaps unlikely places. Within the conservation sphere, certain technologies have enabled protection to become much more efficient and accessible. Using GPS data, geographical information systems (GIS) and motion-sensitive cameras (amongst other things) effective methods of tracking, monitoring and data analysis are now used which save on time, man power and therefore money.
- See: A new approach to disease research in Cheetahs at AfriCat by Dr Adrian Tordiffe
There are about 8 to 12 thousand cheetahs left in the wild, and an estimated 1 400 in captivity, worldwide. The captive cheetahs therefore make up a significant proportion of the total world population and are becoming increasingly important as numbers in the wild continue to decline. In captivity, however, cheetahs are known to suffer from a number of unusual chronic diseases possibly caused by stress, nutritional imbalances, low genetic diversity or lack of exercise (or a combination of these). Over the last 20 to 30 years researchers have made little progress in developing a good understanding of the causes of these diseases. There are several reasons for this.
- Cheetah Flies - Hippobosca Hippoboscidae
The louse fly of cheetahs belongs to the genus Hippobosca within the family Hippoboscidae, but is commonly known just as the 'louse fly'.
See: Cheetah flies and more flies
- See: A Namibia Without Lions
Can you imagine Namibia without Lions, if we had lost all of our lions to persecution, illegal trade and unsustainable off-take? Some farmers might say good riddance, others may be indifferent, but I am convinced that the majority of Namibians would regret not having done more to ensure the lions’ long-term survival.
- See: Drought - A Natural Cycle but for Farmers its about Survival not Conservation
Namibia is known as the 'dry country', where farmers were once familiar with its regular, dry cycles managing their livestock numbers and crops accordingly; many remember the '80's drought' during which thousands of cattle died of thirst and hunger, especially in north-western Namibia, commonly known as Kaokoveld. Conservation groups throughout the country are concerned that their efforts to guide and support communal conservancies into living with wildlife, especially increasing tolerance of large carnivores through education and improved livestock protection methods, will lose ground.
- See: Radio-Collars & Research versus Tourism & Photographers
One of the most distinct features the carnivores that live on Okonjima share - is that radio-collar each rehabilitated or researched predator wears. It is the one feature that creates the most 'talk' – controversial at times - between keen photographers, operators and the guests staying at Okonjima that have come a long way to experience the AfriCat rehabilitation project. It is the one 'sighting' that puts us apart from most other game reserves.
- See: Bush Encroachment – De-bushing invader acacia in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.
Bush encroachment is a problem in the Okonjima Nature Reserve, as it is across most of Namibia, because of damage caused to the land by a combination of farmers over-stocking their land and failed farming methods, a lack of natural bush-fires and many years of low rainfall. This has now become the environment where the cheetah, who is a sprinter - has to hunt to survive.
- Field age determination of leopards by tooth wear by Dr. P.E. Stander (PDF)
AfriCat Projects 2013|2014|2015:
NAMIBIA WILD DOG PROJECT:
A collaboration between Namibia Nature Foundation, N/a’an ku sê and The AfriCat Foundation.
The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of Africa’s most threatened large predators, and currently listed as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (last assessed in 2008), with a free-range stock estimated at between 600-1000 packs (Lindsey & Davies-Mostert 2009; Woodroffe et al. 2004). Resident African wild dog populations occur in just 12% of their historical range within Southern Africa. However, 30-40% of the region is lacking reliable status and distribution data (IUCN/SSC 2007).
See: The Namibia Wild Dog Project
THE AFRICAT HOBATERE LION PROJECT
Conducting a study of the Lion (Panthera leo) population within the Hobatere Concession Area and movements between the Hobatere Concession Area, western Etosha National Park and adjacent communal farmland.
See: The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Project
THE AFRICAT PREDATOR POPULATION DENSITY STUDY IN THE OKONJIMA NATURE RESERVE
The assessment of leopard (Panthera pardus) density and population size via a capture – recapture framework in an island bound conservation area in Namibia.
See: The AfriCat Predator Population Density Study