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Thursday, 15 September 2005

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.

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