Donate US

 photo cub_buttonUSA_zps260251ee.png  photo cub_buttonAllOther_zps266319dc.png

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Nematode worm discovered in cheetahs

A nematode (Ollulanus tricuspis), previously recorded in cheetahs in a zoo in New Zealand, was found recently in Southern Africa for the first time in cheetahs resident at CCF. These pesky little guys caused quite a headache for CCF staff, affecting the health of five cheetahs over a prolonged period of time before being diagnosed by Dr. Emily Lane, a veterinary pathologist in South Africa. The diagnosis was made from stomach biopsies taken from the sick cheetahs.

Symptoms caused by an infestation of this nematode include passing undigested meat in the feces and vomiting, causing a chronic loss in weight and condition. Fortunately, following a specific deworming regime, all five cheetahs have completely recovered.

Regular deworming will not eliminate this nematode, and it does not show up in fecal floats as is passed on through vomitus. We are still puzzled as to where the infestation came from, given that all the other cheetahs on-site appeared unaffected.

We suspected that Daisy and Rosy, two of the five sick cheetahs, picked up the initial infestation when they were held illegally in very small and horrifically unhygienic conditions on a farm near Omaruru prior to being confiscated by CCF. However, their brother showed no signs of health problems and gastric biopsy showed the nematode was not present in his stomach.

A tail of two cheetahs

While testing trip cameras to be used in cheetah population estimates, CCF photographed two male cheetahs visiting the 64-hectare cheetah pen where 11 of our resident female cheetahs live.

The photos clearly showed that one of the brothers had a severely injured tail. Almost a month later when photographed a second time, the tail showed no signs of healing. Trap cages were set and the injured cheetah was caught the same night.

Dr. Mark Jago at the Otjiwarongo Vet Clinic amputated the necrotic section, leaving only about 6 cm of tail. As this cheetah had to be held in CCF's quarantine pens while his wound healed, his brother was also captured to ensure he did not leave the area.

Much to our surprise, this very healthy cheetah weighed in at a record 60 kgs, the heaviest wild cheetah recorded by CCF. Once the tail healed, both were released to resume their lives on and around CCF farms.

Predators on camera

Hair snares and trip cameras give data on Cheetahs, Leopards, Hyaenas.

CCF has "shot" several cheetahs using trip cameras and "snared" hair samples from cheetahs, brown hyaenas and leopards using lures laced with irresistible scent.

Several cheetahs have been photographed on CCF farms while testing camera traps and CCF is planning a project in the Waterberg area to provide population estimates.

In photo trapping, the animal will trigger self-activating cameras and take their own pictures. In the DNA-based hair snare sample surveys, instead of a picture of the animal, the individual identification is provided by a sample of a body hair that is snagged by a device placed in the animal's path.

DNA material is then extracted from the root of the hair and is used to identify individuals using advanced laboratory techniques. At present, DNA-based methods for identifying individual cheetahs using hair samples have not been developed, although CCF has identified individual cheetahs using DNA derived from blood samples using microsatellites.

CCF's research during the past six months has focused on developing techniques to employ these census methodologies in CCF's research study area. Once developed, camera traps could be relocated to different study sites in Namibia to provide a countrywide population estimate.

A litter for Tyger

Tyger, one of our resident working Kangal Anatolian Shepherd females, recently gave birth to a litter of handsome mongrel puppies.

The objective of this litter was to downsize the Kangal breed for working in the eastern communal areas. This is part of a program aimed at assisting the Eastern Communal Conservancies interested in developing their own livestock guarding dog programs.

Combining the hardiness of local mongrels with the guarding talent of Kangal Anatolians will hopefully produce a dog more suited to the working conditions in this area.

Placement and monitering for this litter will be in collaboration with the Eastern Communal Conservancies.

A sad story

In July, you may remember that CCF staff responded to a call from a farmer in Omitara who had collected an injured cheetah cub from a neighboring farm. The cub and its siblings had been chased by a farm worker.

The cub collected was caught after it was repeatedly kicked in the head. The cub, suffering from trauma to the head then spent three days in convulsions before CCF was contacted.

After a short assessment of the situation, CCF promptly requested diagnosis and treatment from Dr. Arthur Bagot-Smith.

The six-week-old female cub appeared to be improving under constant observation and care by CCF staff; however, a relapse of convulsions sadly brought the cub’s life to an end a few weeks later.

CCF requests fellow Namibians to not indiscriminately injure wild animals, and if cheetahs are causing a problem to please call CCF for assistance.

A Message from Dr Marker

Dear CCF Friends,

CCF staff continue to be busy in our cheetah conservation efforts. I have traveled a lot this year and have had the opportunity of sharing the values of wildlife with many people in other countries as well as with fellow Namibians.

Learning about different cultures has been very interesting, especially when it includes discussions around cheetahs and other predators and ways of reducing conflict between humans and wildlife.

During my travels, I have been continuously pleased to see how our Namibian programs have taken root in various other countries where conflict occurs with predators. Namibia's farmers have become role models for integrated livestock and wildlife farming methods.

Because of this, we are even more pleased to be working together with MeatCo and the Conservancy Association of Namibia (CANAM) in developing a market that will pay a premium price for non-lethal predator farming practices through "Cheetah Country Beef."

Economic support will continue to be extremely important as it relates to maintaining habitat for a species like the cheetah. That is why we are so pleased that our Bushblok factory in Otjiwarongo has now been opened and is producing fuel logs daily. Together, CCF's programs are helping farmers and cheetahs in Namibia as well as in other African countries.

—Dr Laurie Marker