Cheetahs Return to Malawi

Mongabay reports that earlier this month African Parks, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife flew four African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) from South Africa and reintroduced them to Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi. Cheetahs in Malawi have been extinct for nearly 20 years.

A Cheetah is released into a boma at Liwonde National Park as part of the translocation to restore predators to the park. Photo by African Parks / Frank Weitzer.

Study Challenges Lion Threat to Cheetah Cubs

Science Daily reports on new research into cheetah cub survival which refutes the theory that lions are a cub’s main predator and big cats cannot coexist in conservation areas.

The study in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park found that 55% of litters and 53.6% of cubs survived to emergence with lions accounting for just 6.7% of mortality cases (compared to 78.2% in the Serengeti).

The authors of this new study argue the low survival rate of Serengeti cheetah cubs may be exceptional with the open landscapes making cubs more vulnerable to predators.

The theory cheetah cubs are at high risk from lions has impacted conservation strategies as it is considered that protected areas may not be suitable for cheetahs if they cannot coexist with large predators.

New Research Shows Cheetah’s Do Not Overheat During Hunts

The belief that a cheetah’s running speed causes it to overheat whilst hunting is based on on a 1973 study which showed cheetahs stop running when their body temperature reached 40.5 degrees Celsius.  The study did not, however, simulate natural conditions: a cheetah was placed on a treadmill to run for two kilometres at a medium speed.

Physiologist Robyn Hetem and her research team recently implanted two sensors, one for temperature and one to monitor activity, into six cheetah in the Namibian rehabilitation camp. Then, over the course of months, they monitored the temperature readings during hunting activities.  The observations disproved the overheating theory and showed cheetahs do not heat up at all.

Cheetah in Kenya's Maasai Mara

Cheetah in Kenya’s Maasai Mara

Body temperature rises were, however, noted in the hour after the hunt; body temperatures rose by about 0.5 degrees Celsius in the 40 minutes after unsuccessful hunts whereas successful hunts resulted in a rise of about 1.3 degrees Celsius.  Stress is thought to cause the temperature increases and Robyn Hetem has hypothesized the increased temperature after hunting is due to a cheetah’s awareness that other carnivores might be after its dead prey.

Please visit the Mongabay web site for the full story.

Cheetahs and Climate Change

The infographic below is from the Cheetah Conservation Fund blog site.
Cheetah Conservation Fund: Cheetahs and Cliamte Change