Published: July 31, 2020

MSU alums use a new model to track vulnerable cheetahs

Contact(s): Val Osowski College of Natural Science office: (517) 432-4561

Population studies are critical for vulnerable and endangered animals because they help conservationists determine what efforts are needed to help the remaining populations persist.

One such animal is the wild cheetah. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, cheetahs have vanished from approximately 90% of their historic range in Africa, and are extinct in Asia except for a single, isolated population of perhaps 50 individuals in central Iran.

With the world’s wild cheetah population now numbering less than 7,000, an accurate estimate of numbers and densities across their range are critical to sound conservation and management efforts and choices.

To help provide the key data needed for effective stewardship and protection of this vulnerable species, three MSU alums—all formerly part of MSU’s Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior program—launched a cheetah population study almost 16 years ago.

A paper on the long-term study and its progress to date was recently published in the journal Population Ecology.

The project began in 2004 when Stephanie Dloniak, now adjunct assistant professor in the MSU Department of Integrative Biology in the College of Natural Science, received funding to conduct the first cheetah population study in the Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR).

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