The cheetah and leopard sightings in Hluhluwe game reserve are relatively low so now Wildlife ACT have started a Project to identify all the cheetah and leopard in the park by using camera traps.
A camera trap is camera that is placed in a sturdy metal box cause they often get abused by “grumpy elephant or rhino” these cameras are placed in areas where the researchers believe there is cheetah and or leopard. When these animals move passed the camera the cat is photographed and is ID’ed by the pattern of its spots.
The cameras are generally left in one place for about three months and the data is taken from the once a week. This way the researches can get an idea as to how long these cats stay in an area and if they are captured on another camera how far the move, giving them an idea of the size of these cat territories.
The down side at the moment is the fact these cameras cost lot of money and Wildlife ACT have many cameras to cover a big area. This where you the public can get actively involved and photograph any cheetah or leopard you find jot down where and when you found the cat and sent your photos to Cathy at Wildlife ACT. See examples
These are the perfect examples of the type of photos Cathy is looking for from the public to ID the leopard or cheetah
Letter from Cathy:
We are using the cameras to work out the population density of both cats in HiP. The most accurate way of getting the numbers of leopard and cheetah, is to identifying the individual animals that are captured by the field cameras (which are, unlike human beings, able to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in all types of terrain and conditions).
We completed the first official leopard census (count) at the end of last year. The census was done in a scientific manner, so that we could take the data collected from sample areas, and extrapolate it to the rest of the Park using statistics, resulting in an approximate number of leopards in HiP.
The cheetah census has proved to be slightly more challenging, as they do not use large game paths (as do the leopards). Positioning the cameras is thus not as simple – we are currently using cheetah scent-marking / vantage trees (which gives us data on male cheetah), and relying on reports of physical sightings (with photographs) for data on female cheetah and cubs.
Tourist sightings and photographs are an invaluable source of data for our cheetah census.
My work e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheetahs often use fallen trees as a vantage point, these trees will also be scent marked hence a good place for a camera trap.