On the 1st September 2015 the Cheetah Conservation Fund started their 3 year project to determine the distribution, density and human-carnivore conflict areas for cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and other key large carnivores across the Greater Waterberg Landscape, Namibia. The project will take place across the Greater Waterberg Landscape (GWL), which is made up of five conservancies; Waterberg (commercial), Ozonahi, Okamatapati, Otjituuo and African Wild Dog (communal). The current distribution and densities of key carnivore species including the endangered African wild dog and vulnerable cheetah across the GWL is unknown. However, previous studies have shown that high level of retaliation killing of carnivores due to livestock loss is occurring across the GWL.
Wildlife surveys have been greatly enhanced by the development of remote camera traps. The benefits of using remote cameras are numerous; a key factor is the capture, confirmation and monitoring of rare and elusive species particularly when the species is located across large remote areas. The method is non-invasive and produces little disturbance to the survey area or individual target animal such as the cheetah. The by-product of camera traps is that they not only capture the target species but non-target species as well, providing valuable information on species richness with no extra surveying. Due to these reasons the project will use remote camera traps to determine large carnivore presence and densities across the GWL. To establish if the land use type and/or other environmental variables are influencing carnivore densities in the region.
In addition to verifying carnivore presence the projects aims to go further by quantify the level and spatial distribution of human-carnivore conflict that is taking place across the GWL. By mapping these conflict zones resources can be targeted to these key areas through education of mitigation methods, which in turn reduces the level of human-carnivore conflict in this area, to secure the future of large carnivores across the GWL. As well as creating a comprehensive species list which will be shared with the relevant government departments, conservation non-governmental organisations, conservancy management and their respective communities, the Large Carnivore Management Association of Namibia, and the relevant international organisations for example the International Union for Conservation of Nature where applicable.