Play trees are quite distinctive as they normally have a large trunk, a wide canopy, and a good view of the surrounding area. However, not all trees in the bush that seem to be suitable play trees are visited by cheetahs, so there is some quality of the tree beyond the obvious that cheetahs are looking for when deciding which trees to use. Therefore, research at CCF is currently being conducted to determine what these qualities are so that play trees may be defined more clearly. This research is basically trying to determine what makes a play tree a play tree.
A better understanding of these trees themselves and the characteristics that cheetahs are looking for in these trees will provide more knowledge into the cheetah’s scent marking behavior and their social behavior. A better understanding of this aspect of cheetah biology and ecology will further improve the design and implementation of cheetah studies as well as conservation strategies. We will keep you posted on the progress of this project.