Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Aspects of Cheetah Biology, Ecology and Conservation Strategies on Namibian Farmlands

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In an increasingly human-dominated environment, the task of successfully conserving large carnivores, such as cheetahs, is difficult due to real or perceived threats resulting in conflict and often their local extirpation. This research describes the causes and potential solutions to this conflict in Namibia. Cheetah biology and ecology were studied through physical examination, laboratory analysis, radio-tracking and human perceptions using survey techniques.

Between 1991 and 2000 data collected on over 400 live-captured and dead cheetahs showed that a perceived threat to livestock or game was the reason for 91.2% (n = 343) of cheetahs captured and 47.6% (n = 30) of wild cheetah deaths. Both were biased towards males, with 2.9 males being captured for every female, despite an apparent equality of sex ratio. Human-mediated mortality accounted for 79.4% (n = 50) of wild deaths reported, of which the majority involved prime adult animals, with a peak at around 5-6 years of age.

Polymorphic microsatellite loci were used to assess 313 Namibian cheetahs’ variation, gene flow, paternity and behavioural ecology. Genetic analysis showed limited regional differentiation supporting a panmictic population and that persistence in Namibia depends on dispersal from regions throughout the country; therefore efforts of connectivity throughout the country should continue. Relatedness values confirmed family groups, and 45 new potential sire/dam offspring and 7 sibling groups were identified, providing information on dispersal and the success of translocation. Sera from wild cheetah were assessed for exposure to feline and canine virus antibodies to CDV, FCoV/FIP, FHV1, FPV, and FCV; antibodies were detected in 24%, 29%, 12%, 48%, and 65%, respectively, showing infection occurs in wild cheetahs; although there was no evidence of disease at time of capture, these diseases are known to cause serious clinical disease in captive cheetahs. Neither FIV antibodies nor FeLV antigens were present in any wild cheetahs tested, however, the first case of FeLV in a non-domestic felid is described in a captive Namibian cheetah. Concern for contact with domestic animals is discussed. Focal Palatine Erosion (FPE), a dental abnormality found in captive cheetahs, was discovered in over 70% of the wild cheetahs and was correlated with dental malocclusions, and is of concern to the long-term health of wild cheetahs.

List of Tables
List of Figures
Chapter 1: General Introduction
Chapter 2: Study Area
Chapter 3: Aspects of the Management of Cheetahs Trapped on Namibian Farmlands
Chapter 4: Morphology, Physical Condition and Growth of Namibian Cheetahs
Chapter 5: Patterns of Molecular Genetic Variation in Namibian Cheetahs
Chapter 6: A Serosurvey of Antibodies to Viral Diseases in Wild Namibian Cheetahs
Chapter 7: Lymphosarcoma Associated with Feline Leukaemia Virus Infection in a Captive Namibian Cheetah
Chapter 8: The Incidence of Dental Abnormalities in Wild-Caught Namibian Cheetahs
Chapter 9: Demography of the Namibian Cheetah
Chapter 10: Notes on the Diet and Feeding Ecology of the Cheetah on Namibian Farmlands
Chapter 11: Movements and Spatial Organisation of Cheetahs on North-Central Namibian Farmlands: The Influence of Prey Base, Competition and Perturbation
Chapter 12: Factors Influencing Perceptions and Tolerance towards Cheetahs on Namibian Farmlands
Chapter 13: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Using Livestock Guarding Dogs as a Method of Conflict Resolution
Chapter 14: General Discussion and Conservation Implications
Appendix I: Current Status of the Cheetah
Appendix II: 2000/2001 International Cheetah Studbook: Summary
Appendix III: Bush Encroachment and Ungulate Density on Commercial Farmlands in North-Central Namibia
Appendix IV: Morphometric Protocols Used while Measuring Cheetahs
Appendix V: Morphometric Data for Cheetahs Published from Various Studies
Appendix VI: Sample Population of Cheetahs used for Genetic Analyses
Appendix VII: Allele Frequencies for all Loci and Subpopulations
Appendix VIII: LOD Scores for Known Dams and Offspring, Showing Mismatchings and Probability of Non-Exclusion
Appendix IX: Questionnaires Used to Interview Farmers
Appendix X: Questionnaire Used to Evaluate Performance of Livestock Guarding Dogs

Author Details
"Laurie L. Marker"

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