Trends in cheetah Acinonyx jubatus density in northcentral Namibia

  • February 26, 2020
  • by Fabiano E. C., Sutherland C., Fuller A. K., Nghikembua M., E. Eizirik, Marker L. L.

Assessing trends in abundance and density of species of conservation concern is vital to inform conservation and management strategies. The remaining population of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) largely exists outside of protected areas, where they are often in conflict with humans. Despite this, the population status and dynamics of cheetah outside of protected areas have received relatively limited attention across its range. We analyzed remote camera trapping data of nine surveys conducted from 2005 to 2014 in the Waterberg Conservancy, north-central Namibia, which included detections of 74 individuals (52 adult males, 7 adult females and 15 dependents). Using spatial capture– recapture methods, we assessed annual and seasonal trends in cheetah density. We found evidence of a stable trend in cheetah density over the study period, with an average density of 1.94/100 km2 (95% confidence interval 1.33–2.84). This apparent stability of cheetah density is likely the result of stable and abundant prey availability, a high tolerance to carnivores by farmers and low turnover rates in home range tenure. This study highlights the importance of promoting long-term surveys that capture a broad range of environmental variation that may influence species density and the importance of nonprotected areas for cheetah conservation.

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