Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheetahs seen in southern Angola for the first time in 30 years

Mar 19, 2010 by Christopher Szabo

A wildlife conservation group has reported the first cheetah sighting in southern Angola in more than three decades. The animal’s habitat was devastated during Angola’s civil war between 1975 to 2002.

Otjiwarongo, Namibia - The Johannesburg Star newspaper and Associated Press (AP) said the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) an international conservation and research group, did a survey in southern Angola’s arid Iona district (which borders on Namibia) where they found proof of the cheetahs’ return.

Cheetah specialist Laurie Marker observed male cheetah droppings on tree roots, which is how they mark their territory. Marker reported this to the CCF. Speaking in
Otjiwarongo where the CCF is based, Marker said:

We found nine different marking trees … two male cheetahs ran out. It was very exciting — there are cheetahs in Angola.

Since the end of the war, deer and buck have been returned to the 3,8 million-acre Iona wilderness area, attracting the fast felines which prey on them. Cheetahs are spotted cats, famed for being the fastest animals on earth. They can be distinguished from Africa’s other spotted feline, the leopard, by the black lines down their faces. The cheetah is also somewhat dog-like and much finer boned than the leopard.

The CCF said Marker used GPS to record locations of cheetah prey, including a large heard of 1,000 springbok, a small, fast gazelle and one of neighbouring South Africa’s national symbols.

The name “springbok” (literally: “jumping buck” in Afrikaans) describes the animal’s behaviour. The springbok is a relative of the Thomson’s Gazelle found in east Africa.
The group also said Alvaro Baptista, owner of one of the only bush camps near Iona, has asked for help in ensuring the once abundant cheetahs.

The region's sparse roads were destroyed during the war, which ended in 2002.


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