EWT Cheetah Metapopulation Project

Cheetah have disappeared from 76% of their historic geographical area in Africa and from virtually all their vast historic areas in Asia.

The human population has continued to grow exponentially  for the past 13,000 years. Problems began for the Cheetah and other wild cats with the transformation from humans being hunter/gatherers to becoming settlers who farm crops and livestock. Cheetah became a threat to livestock and human safety and were killed;  over time the Cheetah population has simply run out of space due to crop farming and urban development.

The bottom line is that wildlife and humans don’t coexist very well.

One way to deal with this problem is to fence the humans out and to fence the animals in for the safety of both parties. The resultant challenge arising from this solution is the limitation of the natural gene flow.

For this reason our reserve is part of the EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) Cheetah Metapopulation Project. Wild Cheetahs occur in South Africa in three location categories:

  • Huge reserves like Kruger National Park and Kgalagardi that have a large enough gene pool (in total 600+ individuals) so they don’t be managed.
  • A free roaming population of 350-400 individuals in the farmlands on the border to Botswana.
  • A fragmented populations of about 340 individuals spread over 54 reserves. Each reserve has, on average, 6 or 7 cheetahs which means inbreeding is an issue to be managed.

The aim of the Metapopulation project is to prevent such inbreeding and to ensure the long-term viability of cheetahs in small fenced reserves together with the long-term genetic and demographic integrity of the metapopulation.

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