"Our collars have actually arrived and we would love to dart and collar the mother if we got the chance. We also had her on Avoca for a week but she disappeared the day the collars arrived. If you happen to see her again would you perhaps mind giving us a shout on the phone so we could try and get down to her? " Siobhan, Cheetah Research
From the 01 November 2009, over the course of the next year, research is being conducted on the resident cheetah population of the Timbavati Reserve. This research is specifically about the abundance, spatial ecology and genetic diversity of cheetahs in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.
Safari camp, game rangers and guests visiting the Timbavati reserve have been asked to participate in the survey. Abundance is to be assessed by means of a photographic survey, whereby individual cheetahs will be recognised by their unique spot patterns utilising spot recognition programs.
Tented safari camps and lodges in the Timbavati Reserve have been asked to take photographs of cheetahs seen in game drives or walking safaris, and to record their special individual markings, as well as the time, date, location and group composition of the sighting. (The group composition records the total number of cheetahs in the sighting, adult males, adult females and young)
Additional information on the cheetah’s behaviour, kills made and interactions with other species also represent critical data that needs to be captured.
The spatial utilisation study involves the GPS (Global positioning system) collaring of at least two cheetahs, which will then be monitored and their movements plotted and analysed.
The third component of the project is to ascertain the genetic variability of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve’s cheetah population, which will be done via the collection of scat samples, from which DNA will be extracted and analysed in order to determine genetic diversity of the population
The Timbavati Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger Park and lies nestled between the Kruger National Park on the east, the Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves in the north and the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve in the west. There are no fences between the Timbavati and the Kruger National Park which allows free movement of wildlife between the Reserves. The world-famous Kruger National Park is a conservation area of more than 2,000,000 ha (over 5 million acres).
The cheetah study is important in terms of providing new information regarding cheetahs within the area, as no previous studies have been undertaken on the species within the reserve. The information and data collected will essentially allow for the effective and informed management of the species, ultimately promoting its conservation