Why are they studied?
Cheetahs are one of the most specialized hunters in the animal kingdom. They are also persecuted by larger competitors that steal their kills and persecute them in protected areas. As part of our predator guild study, we want to understand how the cheetah can persist in the presence of larger competitors. It is thought that Botswana has one of the largest wild populations of cheetahs and northern Botswana may be a key area for the persistence of cheetahs in the wild.
In early 2009, our program identified 3 adult males and 4 adult female cheetahs. Over the course of the year, three of the adult females were unaccounted for with two presumed dead and one most likely dispersing. Along with high adult mortality, it appears that cub mortality is high as well.
The estimated adult cheetah minimum population density is 0.2 /100km², which is consistent with the estimates from elsewhere in Botswana, which range between The estimated adult cheetah minimum population density is 0.2 /100km², which is consistent with the estimates from elsewhere in Botswana, which range between (0.15 to 0.5). The low range estimates of our study population may reflect habitat preferences (for other habitat types) or the effects of competition and predation by other large carnivore species, especially lions.
Territory Size and Movements
There is considerable overlap in the ranging of female cheetahs in our study area. Our records indicate that females are not particularly territorial. In comparison, limited overlap between the known resident males has been observed. A coalition of two adult males ranges from Bodamatau south along the floodplain edge paralleling the 1st Bridge road in Moremi. Another male‚ Qamar, rarely enters Moremi, and remains in the adjacent area to the east. His recorded movements include a foray lasting 7 days well north of his typical range during the year.
Two females were monitored throughout 2009. One of these, Flo-Jo, revealed a range completely overlapping the range of resident female Carly. Another female ,Priya, spent most of the first 6 months of 2009 overlapping the territories of these two other cheetahs in the Santawani area. Later she moved west across the Gomoti River and out of our study range.
Cheetahs primarily prey on impala but have also been observed occasionally feeding on warthog, steenbok and kudu.
Cheetahs were recently listed as an endangered species. Their population estimates range between 10,000 and 12,000.