No one knows how many cheetahs are left in Kenya. Based on previous studies conducted in national parks, it is estimated that only five hundred to a thousand may still be living in the wild. At this time, evidence suggests that the numbers are rapidly decreasing.
Cheetah conservation in Kenya started in earnest in 2001, when CCF supported the setting up of a separate organisation there under Mary Wykstra, with the goal of initiating cheetah research in Kenya to understand the issues facing the survival of cheetahs.
From the beginning of 2009, Mary Wykstra's organisation, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), becomes an independent CCF affiliate, and very much needs your help to continue its work - and even its existence.
The new ACK project comes under a programme called CaLL (Carnivores, Livelihoods and Landscapes). The Kenya cheetah team remains affiliated with CCF and is grateful for the support that CCF has given in eight years of support and advice.
Since July 2005, the Kenya base of operations has been from a home in the Mt. View Estate just 3km north of Westlands, Nairobi.
Mary Wykstra and her Research Assistant, Cosmas Wambua, develop research and education programs in affiliation with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) under a permit through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Sarah Brooke joined the Kenya team as a volunteer research assistant focusing efforts on the human wildlife conflict issues in the Machakos Wildlife Forum (MWF). Lumumba Mutiso works with ACK as a Community Liaison Officer in the MWF collecting information on livestock losses and cheetah movements in the Makueni region.
The cheetah conservation programme in Kenya was established to evaluate the pressures of habitat change and rapid human population growth and to understand issues facing cheetahs as they come into greater contact with mankind. Specifically, the Kenyan group conducts field research to understand predator conflict issues. The project implements educational programs to increase awareness by community members of cheetah issues and in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and evaluates the overall status of cheetahs within Kenya.
Due to the fact that cheetah in other range countries exist in high numbers outside of protected areas, it is essential that we achieve a greater understanding of ranch land habitat issues. Within national parks, large predators like lions, leopards and hyenas exist in large numbers, thus threatening the livelihood of cheetah. Outside of sanctuaries, these large predators are often chased out or killed. As a result, cheetah are believed to live in larger numbers on private ranch lands. But since there have been no recent studies outside protected parks in Kenya, it is imperative that we learn more to reduce human/cheetah conflict.
In December 2001, CCF Kenya Representative Mary Wykstra (left) moved to Kenya to initiate the study of ranch land issues in the Nakuru Wildlife Forum Area. Situated in the Rift Valley, the Nakuru - Naivasha District has traditionally been an important migratory corridor for cheetah and game between the northern and southern regions of Kenya. While resident cheetah populations have never been extremely high in the area, the number of sightings since 1990 had decreased so dramatically that concerned farmers within the Forum Area requested assistance in assessing how they could manage their land and wildlife in order to increase animal populations.
Since that time, Mary and her team have been conducting interviews with local landowners and managers, working cooperatively with other NGOs to develop education programs within the Nakuru District, conducting lectures to tourist groups to increase international awareness of cheetah conservation issues, and upon notice of cheetah sightings, tracking and studying living cheetahs in the wild. The group is currently increasing its database of cheetah sightings and building a resource bank of cheetah information share with other cheetah organizations worldwide.
Action for Cheetahs in Kenya: Staff
Mary Wykstra - Senior Research Assistant - Kenya
Action for Cheetahs in Kenya
The Cheetah Conservation Fund UK is a UK registered charity, number 1079874
Make Cheques payable to: Cheetah Conservation Fund UK, Eagle House, 108/110
Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6RH, UK