Carnivore Conservation Research Programme
N/a'an ku sê plays a vital role in rescuing and releasing threatened cats in Namibia to help reduce human-wildlife conflict. To help protect and conserve large wild carnivores, we started a research program tracking cheetahs and leopards on Namibian farmland in 2008.
N/a’an ku sê has established a solid working relationship with landowners across Namibia and are contacted when problem carnivores are identified. To prevent them being killed by landowners, we undertake live-trapping of the animals and relocate them to conservation areas in other parts of Namibia.
Before re-release, we fit the cheetahs and leopards with radio collars so that we can monitor their movements, check on their condition and gain a better understanding of their ecology for future conservation efforts and management. Our project is the largest of its kind in Namibia to monitor translocated and released carnivores on a continuous and intensive basis.
- The cheetah is listed as vulnerable, the leopard as near threatened and brown hyena are listed as hreatened on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.
- One third of the entire cheetah population live in central Namibia, 95% of which live outside protected areas on commercial farmland, where most of the leopard population also reside. These carnivores are sometimes killed by landowners who perceive them to be a threat.
- Most scientific knowledge on large carnivores is based on studies conducted in conservation areas and so N/a’an ku sê is one of the few projects dealing with persistent cheetah-farmer conflicts on commercial farmland, including mitigation measures and prevention strategies – thereby ensuring the long-term survival of cheetah in their natural habitat.
Since the research project began in early 2008, we have captured and safely re-released over 50 large predators, including cheetah, leopard and brown hyena. They were fitted with either VHF, GPS cell phone or GPS satellite collars and are monitored on a daily basis. Most have established well defined home ranges and territories and successfully hunt wildlife.
Local landowners’ attitudes towards large carnivores have changed notably over the duration of the project. For example, we have seen improved farming practices – new information gained from three years of research have resulted in better livestock protection, and a variety of GIS based maps have been produced and made available to landowners to further aide better management.
Main research activities include:
- Monitoring large predators through VHF and GPS based techniques
- Translocation and subsequent monitoring of large predators
- Game census
- Camera trapping
- Scat analyses
- Footprint identification