The Tsavo ecosystem supports a significantly important cheetah population, which has been highlighted in Kenya’s recent conservation strategy for the species. This population along with connecting populations (Mara -- Serengeti) makes up one of two globally important cheetah populations in Kenya and one of four in eastern Africa.
Encompassing an area of 40,000 km² (15,000 sq. miles), the Tsavo ecosystem, in south east Kenya, is home to the unfenced Tsavo National Parks. Both parks, (East and West) total a combined area of 21,000 km² (8,108 sq. miles), making it the 3rd largest conservation area in the world.
Human – wildlife conflict within the region is on the increase, as the local human population continues to grow and expand onto park boundaries and into protected land. There are still many misconceptions among local residents on the cheetah's behavior and ecology. Many people fear the cheetah, unaware of its non- aggressive nature. As a result, reports of needless killings of this reclusive, threatened cat continue to occur in the vicinity—even within the park’s boundaries. Local poaching for bushmeat, includes cheetahs main prey species and has even caused cheetah deaths due to indiscriminate snaring.
The Tsavo Cheetah Project is a long-term project; hence we monitor cheetahs for trend and threat information on an ongoing basis. TCP employee’s non-invasive monitoring techniques, including direct sightings, our tourists / park staff assisted photographic survey and spoor (paw imprint) tracking. We are building a database of cheetah photographs and Identify individuals through the aid of ‘spot matching’ software. Additional planned methodologies include camera traps, for high-threat areas where cheetahs are difficult to view, and the innovative Footprint Identification Technique (FIT), developed by the organization, Wildtrack.
Education and Incentive
The TCP conducts continuous community interviews and follows up on reports made concerning cheetah, presence, conflict, off-take, and tourist’s harassment, within the Tsavo region. We verify incidents of livestock depredation and educate residents through instilling knowledge on cheetah and predator differentiation and ecology, providing assistance on effective livestock husbandry, and encouraging sustainable, eco-friendly land use. Current program efforts focus on predator retaliation in three Maasai homesteads, adjacent to Tsavo East. We are working with these residents through ongoing meetings and livestock assistance.