oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - Demography of cheetahs in fenced reserves in South Africa : implications for conservation : research article

Volume 41, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2410-7220
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8200



We collected data on the demography of cheetahs by direct observation over nine years on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve and by questionnaire on seven fenced reserves in South Africa. Average age at independence was 17.5 months; females gave birth to their first litter of cubs at approximately 27.4 months and the average interbirth interval was 17.8 months. The average litter size at emergence was 4.2 and there was a significant difference between litter sizes at independence on reserves with lions (2.9 cubs) compared to those without (4.7 cubs). Age specific mortality was higher in the first four years of life (40-70%) than year five to nine (0%) and increased after year nine. Mortality of adult cheetahs was higher on reserves with lions compared to those without and there was a significant positive relationship (2 = 0.56; < 0.05) between cheetah mortality and the density of large predators on these reserves. We conclude that the reproductive rate of cheetahs that have been reintroduced to fenced reserves is high. Mortality of cubs and young adult cheetahs is elevated in the presence of lions and other carnivores. However, even under these conditions small reserves may serve as a source for cheetahs that can be used to re-stock other areas.

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