An update from the Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe

May 19, 2022

Cheetah populations are racing towards extinction across much of Africa, but in Zimbabwe their current status is unknown. The last major cheetah census was carried out in 2015, and recorded huge population declines across the country – but what has happened since then? One WildCRU alumn is working to find out.

Dr Lovemore Sibanda, a former WildCRU postgraduate diploma then subsequent DPhil student, now leads the Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe (CCPZ), which aims to conserve cheetah populations through research, education, collaboration and capacity building. The CCPZ work comes under WildCRU’s Trans-Kalahari Predator Programme, and is a valuable extension of our long-running work on big cats in Zimbabwe. In 2021, support from the South African Conservation Trust allowed CCPZ to launch a citizen science population survey, to understand current distribution and changes to cheetah populations across the country. Not only does this work provide valuable data, it also engages local Zimbabweans in conservation and helps foster an understanding – and appreciation of – these beautiful cats.

Work on the survey is ongoing, in the last year alone, over 1,400 photographs of cheetahs have been submitted by visitors to Hwange. From these images cheetahs are being identified based on their unique spot patterns. The survey will continue until the end of 2023, and on completion will give a complete picture of the changes to cheetah populations across the country over the past seven years.

Are you visiting Zimbabwe? You can help CCPZ – and cheetahs – by submitting any photographs of cheetahs since 2019 to present on their website. Full results of the survey are expected late next year; in the meantime, we wish Lovemore and CCPZ the best of luck with their important work to save Zimbabwe’s cheetahs.

CCPZ thanks the citizen scientists both local and international who make this work possible.

  • © Eustace Matavire
  • © Eustace Matavire