Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe, a new addition to WildCRU’s Trans-Kalahari Predator Programme
Lovemore has been part of the WildCRU family since 2010 when he worked as a Community Liaison Officer for Hwange Lion Research. He later joined us in Oxford to undertake the Recanati-Kaplan Centre Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice in 2014, and following this he started his DPhil in 2016, which we were delighted to report was successfully completed in 2020.
Working in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority the aim of this research project is to conserve cheetahs through applied research, education, collaboration and capacity building. Lovemore takes over from Dr Esther van der Meer, who founded the project in 2012.
Dr. van der Meer says she is ‘very happy to pass on the ‘cheetah baton’ to Dr. Sibanda. The last cheetah population surveywwwil which we conducted in 2015 revealed a huge population decline from 1500 to 150-170 adult cheetahs over a period of fifteen years. The need to conserve the remaining population is urgent and I am confident Dr. Sibanda will make a valuable contribution to the knowledge required by the local authorities to conserve and manage the species’.
Lovemore’s work seeks to:
1) Research the detailed ecology of cheetahs in Hwange National Park including the long-term population trends, demography, diet, ranging behaviour and conservation – a detailed understanding of behavioural ecology of cheetahs is essential in determining long-term conservation priorities;
2) Undertake population surveys in key cheetah areas within Zimbabwe with a view of providing robust population estimates and trends for use by resource managers;
3) Develop an understanding of the impacts of cheetahs (and other predators) on the livelihoods of local communities living on the peripheries of protected areas.
Dr Andrew Loveridge, Director of TKPP, noted ‘TKPP was created to provide an umbrella for large predator research and conservation in the greater Kalahari ecosystem. We are excited that Lovemore will be bringing a focus on cheetah, a species in need of significant conservation attention, to the programme’.