Established by Dr. Elena Chelysheva, PhD, the mission of the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project is to promote the conservation of cheetahs through scientific research, community involvement and education.
Over the past two decades, global cheetah numbers have declined by 30% primarily due to increased human activities which directly and indirectly negatively influence their survival. The global wild cheetah population is estimated to be as low as 7,500 animals with the Kenyan population (around 1500 individuals) considered to be one of the strongholds for the species in Africa.
This project aims to establish the major threats currently faced by Mara cheetahs. These have included predator conflict (mainly with lions and spotted hyenas), human conflict (with livestock owners), and disease. The level of tourism impact on cheetah behaviour and welfare is also continuously assessed. By analysing and evaluating these various interactions the team suggests ways in which to best protect this endangered species.
The project researchers often conduct workshops on cheetah biology and conservation at our Mara camps for the benefit of our guides and guests. These talks and presentations train the teams in cheetah identification techniques in order to encourage them to participate in cheetah conservation.
You too, can get involved in cheetah research by sending in some of your photos of walking, standing or sitting cheetahs (profiles of both sides are preferable) to firstname.lastname@example.org together with your name as well as the date and location of the sighting (if you have it), so that they can tell you what is known about the cheetah you observed. Photographs of mother cheetahs with their cubs particularly aid in building the Mara cheetah pedigree as they help to reveal parental relationships between individuals, estimate cheetah lifespans, record personal reproductive history and assess survival rate of cubs.
Dr Elena enjoys sharing her expertise on the cheetahs in the area with our guests through talks or by accompanying guests on cheetah-focused game drives. Please let us know if you would like to pre-book a talk or a guided game drive with Elena, when booking your safari for advice on costs.