Our permanent field staff at both Salama and Samburu study sites gather data throughout the year so that after years of data collection we can look at trends.
Each month the staff cover their entire geographic area during Routine Patrols, gathering information on where and when they see animals - any animals. They record all sightings of wildlife and livestock as well as all carnivore tracks as they are more cryptic.
For more detailed data, each of the field staff has a set of four Walking Transects that they complete each month. The transects cover four different land-cover types within their areas: a human-dominated area, a wildlife-dominated area, along a road, and whatever major land use is not represented yet. These transects are completed at the same time of day and same day each month, letting us track the density and abundance of various species through months and years.
NATIONAL CHEETAH SURVEY
ACK conducted the first National Cheetah Survey (2004-2007) in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Cheetah Conservation Fund, and the East African Wild Life Society. Results from that study were used in creating both the Regional (East Africa) and the National ( Kenya) Strategies for (Wild Dog and) Cheetah Conservation (2007 and 2010 strategie links). Other publications (Kuloba and Durrant) have also used that data to strategize for long term cheetah conservation across the cheetah range. As a part of that strategy, ACK continues to fill gaps in knowledge about cheetah status and to identify strategies to address threats to cheetah survival in Kenya.
In addition to the interview data, our K9 Team will be searching 20-25 locations across the country. The scat (cheetah poop) the dogs locate can then be used for genetic analysis, giving us a relatedness map of the cheetahs in Kenya. This map can be used to inform corridor and range land protection efforts in the future as well as telling us where cheetah cubs rescued from the black market may have come from.
Since 2006 ACK has been gathering data to use in assisting communities to mitigate conflicts. When a livestock loss is reported to our field officers in either the Salama or Samburu study site, we visit the site to determine the predator responsible and advise on potential solutions. Over the years we have used various resources to evaluate the effectiveness in our areas of focus. After compiling the data, our staff worked with a student intern from Colorado State University (Sonora Kameron) to create a resource manual that can be used by our staff and be distributed in other regions.
A mitigation strategy that has been of major focus has been the use of flashing LED lights as a predator deterrent. We have engaged our staff alongside local and international students in testing several commercial and locally assembled flashing light systems. In order for such technology to be effective, they must be culturally accepted, have short and long-term impacts to reduce visitation and losses, financially attainable, and must be mobile for the pastoral lifestyle. By engaging the community in developing the right system for their lifestyle we hope that the product will assist in the mitigation of conflict for the long -term.
Learn about the projects currently being completed by ACK staff and students.
Peter is looking at the effects of linear infrastructure on wildlife populations including things such as roadkill occurrence data. This project will lead to information that can inform future development in Kenya for things like:
Strategies to minimize road kill hotspots using road crossings.
Strategies to minimize railway mortality.
Strategies to minimize the impact of pipeline and powerline placement.