New research from Tanzania sheds light on globally important yet little-known cheetah stronghold

August 9, 2021

By Paolo Strampelli

New research provides some of the first insights into the population status, distribution, and habitat use of cheetahs in Ruaha-Rungwa. Although it is believed that the area hosts Tanzania’s second largest population of cheetahs, and one of East Africa’s most important, very little research has been carried out on cheetahs in this vast landscape. Through a combination of spoor-based surveys, camera trapping, and collaboration with photographic tourism operators, the study revealed that the species is widespread in the ecosystem, albeit likely existing at low population density as a result of the area’s semi-arid habitat. The study also revealed a known geographical range extension for the species, as well as the fact that miombo woodlands appear to be a more important habitat for cheetah than previously thought.

The study used data from the Ruaha Carnivore Project, the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program, and was made possible thanks to collaborations with tourism operators in Ruaha NP, including Essential Destinations, Foxes Safari Camps, Mwagusi Safari Camp, Nomad Tanzania, Asilia Africa, Selous Safari Company, Tandala Safari Camp, and Ikuka Safari Camp who the authors thank for the kind assistance.

Strampelli, P., Searle, C.E., Smit, J., Grau, A., Henschel, P., Lobora, A.L., Mitchell, N., Macdonald, D.W. and Dickman, A.J., 2021. Insights into the status and distribution of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in an understudied potential stronghold in southern TanzaniaAfrican Journal of Ecology59(2), pp.334-341.