We’ve been working with two key cheetah conservation organisations in Namibia to develop the FIT algorithm for cheetah monitoring.
Florian Weise is the lead researcher at the N/a’an ku sê Cheetah and Leopard Research Programme in Namibia. We have been working with Florian for the last three years to develop FIT as a montoring tool for cheetah in Namibia.
Why would a tool like FIT benefit cheetah monitoring? The fact is, that despite years of study and considerable attention from the conservation community, our best cheetah range maps are still unable to provide reliable data on numbers and distribution – the two key priorities in any conservation strategy. The map below demonstrates this point well.
Our FIT cheetah reference database, developed with prints from 37 captive cheetah, is now complete, and yielding 98% accuracy. Two recent blind-trials have been 100% accurate for individual, sex and age-class.
Much of Namibia’s land is commercial farmland, and wild cheetah range over this area also. Not surprisingly, many farmers who have lost livestock to cheetah have viewed this endangered species as vermin. The key to success in their conservation lies in finding ways for the farmers and cheetah to co-exist. Monitoring the numbers and distribution of cheetah enables researchers to advise farmers appropriately on protection and engage them in the conservation effort.
We’re also working with the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima in Namibia on the development of the FIT Cheetah library of footprints. Our friends at Okonjima have contributed footprints from several cheetah towards the database, which is now complete. We’re looking forward to working with them to help implement FIT for monitoring free-ranging cheetah!