About the project
The Tsavo Cheetah Project (TCP) commenced in April 2011.The long-term project works in affiliation with the Kenya Wildlife service (KWS) under a research permit which covers the 40,000 km² Tsavo Ecosystem, from the National Council of Science and Technology. In the US, the project works under fiscal partnership with Felidae Conservation Fund. TCP is independently registered in Kenya as a national NGO. Prior to implementation, the last scientific cheetah population assessment for the Tsavo region was in 1990, when Paule Gros estimated cheetah numbers in and surrounding Kenya’s protected areas. At a total estimate of 793 cheetahs, 55% was based in Tsavo (Gros 1998). Based on subsequent sighting information and reports made by stakeholders, park personal, and wildlife biologists, Tsavo was concluded as a priority focal area for cheetah research and conservation, in the recent country-wide plan for the species: National Conservation and Management Strategy for Cheetah and Wilddog (2010).
The Tsavo cheetah population along with connecting populations (Mara and Serengeti) makes up one of two globally important cheetah populations in Kenya and one of four in Eastern Africa. The project works on effective, standardized cheetah conservation and monitoring programs to protect conserve and manage the cheetah population of the Tsavo Ecosystem. We work with stakeholders and communities in addition to governmental bodies to foster the coexistence with local residents and influence wildlife laws and policies and collaborate with colleagues in the Serengeti and Mara on larger scale cheetah movements.
As a long-term project in Kenya, TCP monitors cheetahs for trend and threat information on an ongoing basis and employees standardized cheetah monitoring techniques, including direct sightings, our tourists / park staff assisted photographic survey, camera traps, and spoor tracking. Within Tsavo East National Park, the project is also working with KWS to combat off-road driving and cheetah harassment, which has the potential to threaten the cheetah’s chances of survival through behavior alteration. Since the project’s inception, we have conducted interviews with residents living on the periphery of the parks (in between Tsavo east and Tsavo east national parks and immediately bordering southern Tsavo east) to compile data on cheetah sightings and conflict issues. We conduct verifications on livestock predation and investigate reports on the retaliatory killing of cheetahs. Education has been identified as a key component to cheetah conservation in the Tsavo region, therefore, engaging communities on the proper identification and differentiation between spotted cat species and specific predator behavior, coupled with on-ground assistance on livestock husbandry improvement, are critical activities of the project.