African wild dog and cheetah all but extinct in North Cameroon

The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) are “functionally extirpated” in North Cameroon, an international group of researchers said today. Cameroon is a country of central and western Africa.

cheetah photo 5.jpg

Photo courtesy of the University of Leiden

“Other large carnivores such as lion, leopard, striped hyena and spotted hyena, have become rare and survive in small populations,” said researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Leiden University, in collaboration with the University of Dschang in Cameroon and the Painted Dog Foundation in Zimbabwe, funded by WWF Netherlands and WWF Cameroon in the Bénoué Complex, North Cameroon.

“Three years of surveys covered over 4,100 km of spoor transects and more than 1,200 camera trap days, interviews with local villagers and direct observations,” the University of Leiden said in a news release.

The main reasons for the population crash of both wild dog and cheetah are habitat destruction, poaching by local communities, loss of prey and retaliatory killing by managers of hunting zones, the statement explained.

“Only if wildlife conservation strategies are drastically improved, Lycaon populations may recover into the coming decades. The species is resilient and will profit from improved management regimes and habitat quality,” the university added.

painted dog photo.jpg

Photo courtesy of the University of Leiden

The findings will lead to the development of conservation tools with a focus on maintaining wild dog pack sizes, as well as a conservation strategy containing five major components: continued research, direct conservation, conservation education, capacity building for the future and community development.

“These activities will continue under the umbrella of the Large Carnivore Initiative for West- and Central Africa (LCI) which has recently been founded by a number of organizations and which is financially supported by the Prins Bernhard Natuurfonds,” the university said.

Posted by David Braun

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