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Overview of Results

The 4th Wild Dog & 2nd Cheetah Photographic Survey in the Greater Kruger Region.

September 2004 – April 2005

L.V. Kemp & M.G.L. Mills

1. Photographic surveys using material submitted by visitors to Kruger of wild dog and cheetah have proved to be a useful way of monitoring population trends in these species. Previous surveys and the analysis of the data have suggested that a shorter time frame than 18 months might yield comparable results. Accordingly this survey was conducted over a seven month period.

2. A total of 414 entries (163 of cheetah and 251 of wild dog) comprising over 4000 photographs were received. This was as good a rate of entries or even better than previous surveys.

3. Statistical analyses using the rarefaction technique suggested that wild dogs had been adequately sampled, in the southern district, but less well so in the central and northern districts. This was supported by rangers’ observations. However, cheetah were poorly sampled throughout the area. Alternative analyses using mark-recapture statistical techniques are presently being conducted which may offer a more suitable calculation of the number of wild dog packs and total number of cheetah.

4. Preliminary results indicate that the wild dog population is a minimum of 140 in 17 packs, which suggests a decline from the 2000 survey when a minimum of 177 in 25 packs was counted. However average pack size has increased slightly from 7.1 in 2000 to 8.2. Clearly wild dogs numbers have not recovered in Kruger from the peak of 434 in 36 packs counted in the 1995 survey. The continuing years of above average rainfall is believed to be the major reason for the low numbers and it is believed that several dry years are needed to reverse the population trend. The “Threshold for Potential Concern (TPC)” for this species - the measure of when to consider taking management action - has been set at 12 packs and/or average pack size less than 6.

5. A total of 103 cheetah were identified compared to 172 in the previous survey in 1990/1991. This is believed to be due to the shorter time frame in the latest census (7 months compared to 14 months). Before further conclusions are drawn the data will be analysed using capture-recapture models, but the indications are that the population has not changed significantly since the previous survey.

General Information

The wild dog population has been found to fluctuate greatly from 357 in 1989, to 434 in 1995 to a low of 177 in 2000. These fluctuations are natural and seem to be related to rainfall cycles, the dogs doing better during dry periods when prey are probably easier to catch. In the 1991/1002 cheetah census 172 individuals were identified.

The project is based on the recognition of individual wild dogs by their colour patterns and cheetah by their spot patterns. Our success in determining the population status of these two threatened species relies largely on the accuracy of the information we receive. We particularly need images from animals in the Northern District as this area is less frequently visited by tourists. In this census new statistical methods will be used to analyse the data.

Your images will go a long way to help us understand and so protect these beautiful creatures.

If you have been to the park and been lucky enough to photograph either of these species then click here for a downloadable entry form. With it are all the requirements of what we need and some more details. To keep you up-to-date, we will post a number of progress reports and the final results of the study at the end of May 2005.

We look forward to your contributions so pack your cameras, Kruger is calling.


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