The Tsavo Cheetah Project (TCP) works to protect and conserve the cheetahs in and surrounding the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya through conducting research on their population and conservation status, while addressing threats to their survival.
In such a vast area with a broad range of habitat, cheetah identification and monitoring can be challenging. In Tsavo, habitat such as open plains and grassland is not continuous as in the Maasai Mara or Serengeti National Park; consequently, opportunistic sightings in Tsavo’s thick bush, long grass and woodlands are not frequent enough. Our team therefore relies on a variety of monitoring methods, in addition to direct sightings made with the aid of spoor tracking and tour driver information. Camera trap (remote sensing cameras) captures assists in providing verification of predator presence; both on community land and inside the park and the identification of individual cheetahs. Interviews conducted on the homesteads of residents have helped with information on cheetah presence, while assessing attitudes and potential threats posed to the species and other local predators. This initial data from locations where cheetah monitoring, conflict investigation and intervention programs may be required is critical.
In many cases, residents are unsure if the ‘problem animal’ is a leopard or cheetah, since they are not able to differentiate between the two, often referring to both as simply “chui”, the Kiswahili word for leopard. In addition to retaliatory persecution and cases of poaching of all large cat species within the study area, residents have killed cheetahs simply out of fear. The Tsavo Cheetah Project is providing solutions through “A Tsavo Cheetah’s Ecosystem’” teacher- led education programs in local primary and secondary schools, and at a growing number of community forums. We further assist residents with livestock protection measures by offering sound advice and physical participation in boma improvement.
While we have been focusing on the southern sector of Tsavo East and adjacent homesteads and community lands, we are gradually expanding our efforts to include the northern sector of Tsavo East and communities on the periphery, where conflict with the cheetah and other cats is also prevalent.
We're raising funds for transportation costs that will enable the project to continue monitoring cheetahs throughout this large expanse, as well as with our current conservation programs. The goal amount of $1,500 will allow us to continue with these critical activities for a period of 3-4 months.
To learn more about the Tsavo Cheetah Project: http://www.felidaefund.org/?q=Tsavo-Cheetah-Project-Page