Status of the Cheetah in Zimbabwe

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The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus once occurred throughout Zimbabwe, but is now largely absent from the north and east of the country. Estimates of the cheetah population over the last 30 years range from 400 to 1,500, but many of these figures are not based on reliable data, and no current estimates are available. The cheetah population is thought to have been stable or decreasing in protected areas, and increasing on private land. The fast track land resettlement programme (FTLRP) initiated in 2000 may have affected the present status and distribution of the cheetah, but this has not yet been investigated. Cheetahs are legally hunted as problem animals and as trophies, but insufficient data are available to assess the impact of hunting on the population. Illegal removals may also have an important impact on the population. It is suggested that research is con- ducted to determine the current status and distribution of the cheetah population, and how this may have been affected by recent land use changes. In addition, it is recommended that trophy quality should be monitored, and information on non-lethal predator management techniques should be provided to farmers.

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Sam Williams
Conservation Biologist

Conservation biologist helping to solve problems at the interface of people and wildife.