Scientific research is the backbone of CCF’s education and conservation activities. CCF’s scientific research on cheetahs focuses on a number of aspects of the cheetah’s life cycle, biology and genetics. Research projects also include ecology, human-wildlife conflict, agriculture, and biomass energy.
The Life Technologies Conservation Genetics Laboratory and The Haas Family Veterinary Clinic
CCF is home to a world class research facility that is unique in Africa. The Life Technologies Conservation Genetics Laboratory is the only fully-equipped genetics lab in situ at a conservation facility in Africa. From this facility, CCF collaborates with scientists around the globe. Research not only benefits the cheetah and its ecosystem, but other big cats and predators as well.
The Haas Family Veterinary Clinic allows us to collect samples from the injured or orphaned cheetahs taken into our facility. The clinic is an ideal space to give prompt veterinary care to non-releasable cheetahs, dogs, goats and other animals that live at our centre.
Genome Resource Bank
CCF uses best-practice techniques for storing sperm, tissues and blood samples in its Genome Resource Bank (GRB). These materials provide ‘insurance’ for the cheetah’s survival. As a result, CCF maintains one of the largest GRB’s for an endangered species.
Cryopreservation methods continue to be studied and refined in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, USA.
Behavior Demographics, Home Range, and Reintroduction
CCF investigates the movement of released cheetahs to determine home ranges, habitat preference and seasonal use, territoriality, and behaviors. The behaviors are unique to individual cheetah populations and may prove critical for the cheetahs’ survival.
CCF develops and implements relocation, reintroduction, and non-invasive monitoring methodologies to ensure a viable wild population. Data is gathered on the status of wild cheetahs across the species’ range.
Health and Reproduction
CCF’s on-going research on the wild cheetah includes studying the genetics and relatedness of the population, the incidence of disease, stress hormone levels, and the reproductive health of the population. Through weighing and measuring for morphometric studies, analysis of dental structure and reproductive fitness, CCF is learning more about the overall health of the world’s cheetah population.
Cheetah Census Research
Cheetahs are very difficult to count using conventional census techniques due to their secretive nature. CCF has tested various census and monitoring techniques to gather scientific research on cheetahs. The research includes radio-telemetry, spoor track counts and camera traps. The data gathered is compared to known density estimates in our research study area.
Trained scat detection dogs help CCF ecologists find cheetah scat in the field. DNA is then extracted in its laboratory to identify individual cheetahs and understand cheetah population structure.
Ecological Research and Biomass
CCF identifies vegetation and monitors growth patterns within CCF study areas, identifying target areas for ecological management, and investigating how bush encroachment affects biodiversity. CCF also conducts prey base studies that monitor habitat use by game species. CCF collates historical data regarding predation, develops methodologies for the reintroduction of prey species, and encourages standardized prey studies in other cheetah-range countries.
Research projects include studies on habitat restoration and biomass technology development. CCF developed Bushblok clean-burning fuel logs based on the findings of multiple long-term studies.
Investigating Human-Wildlife Conflict
Education on human-wildlife conflict CCF collaborates with farmers to better understand traditional farm management techniques. Perceptions on predators are also collected and studied.
CCF evaluates non-lethal predator control methods in livestock management. These methods can reduce the indiscriminate removal of cheetahs and other predators in the landscape. The research program includes studies conducted at CCF’s Model Farm and CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dogs.
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