It’s the world’s fastest land mammal and if you’ve ever seen one streaking across the African savannah, you’re certain to agree. The cheetah is a sleek, magnificent cat, perhaps the most elegant of the feline family, certainly the most impressive.
However, as strong and resourceful the agile cheetah is, it’s unfortunately no match for an expanding human population, disease and poorly managed tourism affecting its habitat. In the 1970s there were upwards of 15,000 cheetahs in Africa. Today their numbers are estimated at only 7,000, taking up just 9% of the land they used to occupy. They are now classified as a vulnerable species.
Saving the Cheetah
But help is on the way. Various organizations are now working to study and assist the cheetah population to regain its once-abundant numbers and thriving habitat. At A & S Signature Journeys we give our strong support to the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project.
The Project is a long-term scientific endeavor designed to study and promote the conservation of the cheetah through research, community involvement and education.
In actionable terms this means monitoring the cheetahs in the wild, treating them when necessary and creating workshops for tourists, the community and children so they can understand and support the efforts to help these fierce yet vulnerable creatures.
Monitoring the Cheetahs
By monitoring the cheetahs through behavioral observations, scientists working in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, study the effects of human interference on the natural behavior of cheetahs’ hunting, feeding, and mating rituals. These are essential tools for the survival of the cheetahs and have influenced the park’s rules and regulations to help protect the animals.
Observing the cheetahs has also led to a database called the Mara Cheetah Pedigree. This important record shows cheetah population trends, lifespan and survival rates of their cubs.
Treating the Cheetahs
Project members work with rangers and Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarians to treat sick and recovering animals in the wild.
They also monitor cheetah families with young cubs and protect them from harassment.
The Project creates workshops for guides, rangers, teachers, and pupils. Identification techniques and conservation lessons are imparted to those working in the field.
Textbooks and even conservation-themed coloring books for children (“Let’s Go Wild”) are employed and donated to local schools.
The Brains Behind the Brawn
Every great initiative has a dedicated and passionate leader. The resourceful scientist who founded the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project is Dr. Elena Chelysheva, a renowned expert in cheetah behavior. Studying cheetahs for over 30 years, Dr. Elena has worked in conservation centers in Moscow, the U.S., Namibia, and Kenya.
Now in association with the Kenya government, Dr. Elena is making a substantial difference in helping the cheetah population to recover, while fostering an appreciation for this valuable and regal creature.
A & N Signature Journeys proudly supports the work of Dr. Elena Chelysheva.