At the end of September, Cheetah Conservation Botswana held its first Conservation Bush Camp since we have taken over the running of the Tiisano Education Centre. Fifteen students from the Lehutshelo Junior Secondary School Conservation Club came to the CCB camp in Ghanzi for 3 days of fun and conservation education organised by CCB’s Education Officer William Mooketsi and Ghanzi Camp Coordinator, Gavin Reynolds. The students were introduced to a range of ideas including basic ecology, predator conservation and predator friendly farming, as well as having fun on the ropes course, playing football and especially splashing in the pool. William and Gavin were particularly impressed by the intelligence and excellent behaviour of the students which was a credit to their teacher Mr Keiteitotse. CCB aims to host regular education courses at our Tiisano Education Bush Camp to help spread the word of conservation, teaching people about healthy environments and the crucial role that predators play in the ecosystem.
In the Western Kalahari, we have now completed our recent motion camera survey looking at biodiversity and predator populations on the Ghanzi farmlands. The survey has shown a healthy level of biodiversity, with 25 different mammal species being photographed on cattle farms (not including domestic stock!). A total of 7722 photos were captured during the survey, spread over 26 camera stations. Brown hyena proved to be the biggest problem with four cameras sustaining damage due to these curious, but powerful jaws. The survey aimed to develop the technique for the use with cheetah and to assess predator numbers on farmland. The results will be published later this year. Camera traps are an ideal remote method to assess predator numbers, particularly on farmlands were predators tend to be very elusive as they come into conflict with humans in these areas and are often not seen, even though they are present. Development of such indirect techniques such as camera traps and track/spoor surveys is essential to better understand the status of predators outside of protected areas.
Some sad news! One of Mokolodi Nature Reserve’s cheetah brothers, Duma passed away last week on the 6th September, due to complications resulting from old age. He was 16 years old and had an amazing life. He met princes and presidents and inspired thousands of people to admire and respect the species. He was also responsible for starting Cheetah Conservation Botswana, as it was the 2 Mokolodi cheetahs that originally inspired us to start the project. He will be missed by all. His brother Letotse is in good health but will no doubt miss Duma’s presence. We wish him well on his way. Tsamaya sentle Duma!