Cheetah Outreach
Cheetah Outreach

Promoting the survival of the free ranging, Southern African cheetah through environmental education and delivering conservation initiatives.
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Research


     

Introduction

Cheetah Outreach recognises the value in scientific research and is involved in a number of collaborations aimed at improving the understanding of cheetah biology and conservation..

 Projects

Gastritis project

The captive cheetah population suffers from an unusually high incidence of the debilitating disease, gastritis.  Since dietary factors are known to influence the onset and progression of gastrointestinal disease in other species, a study was undertaken to survey a representative proportion of the international cheetah population in order to determine the existence of any dietary risk factors for gastritis and other gastrointestinal disease.  The results of this study have been published in the journal PLOS ONE (see Whitehouse-Tedd et al., 2015 paper in publications section) and circulated amongst international cheetah-housing facilities. Further research priorities have been identified regarding the mechanism of action of identified dietary risk factors and relevant studies are now being planned.

Livestock Guarding Dog project

The use of Anatolian Shepherd dogs as a non-lethal method of predator control for farmers is proving to be a valuable conservation tool.  Cheetah Outreach is involved in the collection of data on livestock loss, predator and prey ecology, and socio-economic factors involved in mitigating human-wildlife conflict, in order to quantify the success of this programme, as well as to identify where the programme may be improved. A number of papers have arisen from these projects (see Publications section) although many are still underway.

Cheetah Cub Growth and Development 

In collaboration with Massey University (New Zealand) Cheetah Outreach has participated in a number of research studies investigating the growth and development of hand-reared cheetah cubs.  Comparisons have been made between different milk formulas, as well as the treatment and prevention of carpal valgus syndrome, and growth rates associated with energy intake. These studies are now published (see Publications section).

Cheetah Metabolism and Physiology
 

Cheetah Outreach has collected biological samples (urine and faeces) using non-invasive methods from their animals for researchers investigating various metabolic and physiological processes in the cheetah. See Publications section for relevant papers.

 Student Projects

Research projects are conducted by students from a variety of universities under the supervision of our staff. For example, MSc students studying towards their degree in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation at Nottingham Trent University, UK have investigated cheetah behaviour, wildlife population dynamics, sociological aspects to our Livestock Guarding Dog project, and wildlife diseases. Undergraduate students enrolled in BSc(Hons) Animal Biology, or Wildlife Conservation, or Zoo Biology at Nottingham Trent University have also conducted research into visitor attitudes and behaviour. Students from other universities such as University of Utrecht (Holland), University of Stellenbosch (SA), University of Pretoria (SA), and University of Liverpool (UK) have also completed research projects in environmental education, cheetah enrichment, livestock guarding dog efficiency, and parasitology.

For further information please contact the Cheetah Outreach Research Officer:

Deon Cillers:  deoncilliers@vodamail.co.za or cheetah@intekom.co.za

 
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