Media Release: Public stands to Win Big by helping KNP’s Cheetah and Wild Dog Census
Big prizes are up for grabs for members of the public who help the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Carnivore Conservation Group with a Cheetah and Wild Dog census, which will start on October 1, 2004 and end on April 30, 2005.
This six month photographic census is different from any previous census of its type in that it involves the public in the counting of two of the threatened carnivore species found in the KNP at the same time – the Vulnerable Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and the Endangered Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) – as classified by the IUCN (World Conservation Union).
This is only the second time in the more than 100-year history of the KNP that the Cheetah population has been counted. The first census was conducted in 1991/1992 and 172 individuals were identified.
This is the fifth Wild Dog census and previous results portray a fluctuating population of this endangered species. In 1989, the population stood at 357, in 1995 it stood at 434 and in 2000 it had dropped to 177 individuals. It is believed that these fluctuations are natural and the populations seem to do better during dry periods when prey is possibly easier to catch.
Census operations on any animal species within the boundaries of the KNP are important in order to get an idea of that animal’s status within the context of biodiversity management.
Both animals are classified as threatened or vulnerable, by the IUCN, a further reason for the need to further research population patterns of these animals. It is well understood that Wild Dogs – in particular – have distinctive colour patterns and individual animals can be recognized in this way. Thanks to scars, size and other characteristics, it is hoped that Cheetahs can be counted in the same way.
As the southern half of the KNP is visited more extensively, entrants are asked to pay special attention to the northern areas of the Park. The competition also covers the private game reserves bordering the KNP’s western boundary, including the Sabi Sands, Manyeleti, Timbavati, Klaserie and Umbabat, where no fences exist between these areas and the KNP.
When guests to the Park see either Cheetah or Wild Dog, they are asked to attempt to get clear photographic or video images of either, and preferably both sides of each animal in that particular pack or group and to record all relevant information of the sighting including the species, date, time, location, group composition (total, adult males, adult females, young) and any other notes and details of the photographs that might be relevant.
Very importantly, the winner will not be judged on the quality of the image but on the amount of assistance that he or she gives to the programme. Prizes include three packages of “two nights for two” at upmarket destinations including Tinga Private Game Lodge, the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge, as well as nine Agfa photographic hampers valued at R400 each.
In order to help with the logistics of the research, Land Rover has provided a vehicle for the duration of the project.
Entry forms and brochures will be available at the gates and rest camps in the KNP from October 1, 2004 and digital images or video clips of either animals can be sent to the dedicated email address email@example.com. Photographs, slides and video tapes can be posted to “Wild Dog and Cheetah Project”, P.O. Box 10, Skukuza, 1350.
All other rules and regulations pertaining to guests in the KNP apply.
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Yolan Friedmann, Conservation Manager, Endangered Wildlife Trust: Telephone: (011) 486-1102, Fax: (011) 486-1506, email@example.com, http://www.ewt.org.za/
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communications, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org