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Saharan cheetah Acinonyx jubatus hecki, a ghostly dweller on Niger's Termit massif

  • Claudio Sillero-Zubiri (a1), Susana Rostro-García (a1), Dylan Burruss (a2), Alkabouss Matchano (a3), Abdoulaye Harouna (a3) and Thomas Rabeil (a3)...

The Saharan cheetah Acinonyx jubatus hecki, once broadly distributed across north-western Africa, now occurs in only 9% of its former range and is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The Saharan cheetah is rare and threatened but there is a lack of reliable data on its population status and distribution. We report sightings of cheetahs in the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve of Niger, recorded using three methods: camera-trap surveys, sign surveys and interviews with local people. We recorded three individuals in camera-traps, three direct sightings of lone individuals, 43 distinct cheetah tracks, and one cheetah scat, which suggest a resident population. Most respondents had negative attitudes towards carnivores, including the cheetah. Paradoxically, local nomads reported no conflict with the cheetah and perceived that the number of cheetahs was declining. Attitudes towards carnivores were correlated with respondents’ age and level of education. Efforts to reduce killing of carnivores and their prey are needed but it is equally important for conservation initiatives to focus on increasing local knowledge about wildlife through education, particularly targeted at the younger generation. Our findings highlight the benefits of using various techniques for recording the presence of a rare carnivore.

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P. Charruau , C. Fernandes , P. Orozco-terWengel , J. Peters , L. Hunter , H. Ziaie et al. (2011) Phylogeography, genetic structure and population divergence time of cheetahs in Africa and Asia: evidence for long-term geographic isolates. Molecular Ecology, 20, 706724.

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K. Marnewick , P.J. Funston & K.U. Karanth (2008) Evaluating camera trapping as a method for estimating cheetah abundance in ranching areas. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 38, 5965.

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  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
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