Raising funds for five incredible projects dedicated to the conservation of Lappet-Faced and White-Backed Vultures, Brown Hyenas, Cheetahs, Black Footed Cats and African Wild Dogs in Namibia.
Target: $2000 per species ($10,000)
Here are our 5 projects for the Big5Drive Namibia ... do help us raise funds to power knowledge and conservation: Donate today.
LAPPED-FACED & WHITE-BACKED VULTURES
The Vultures Namibia Project works in national parks and on numerous private farms in close conjunction with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism with the aim of raising awareness and collecting ecological distribution, movement and breeding data of mainly the Lappet-faced and White-backed Vulture.
The VNP maintains trail cameras at waterholes across the country and organises aerial surveys with volunteer pilots using their own aircraft to locate nests, and then visits them to ring and tag the vulture chicks and fit satellite trackers.
WWA seeks to raise funds for the purchase of more trail cameras and superior computer capacity for VNP to run a specifically designed rapid AI programme that recognises and extracts photos of patagial-tagged vultures at waterholes, vulture restaurants and random carcasses. Up to now the several million photos catalogued have required manual examination! This will all provide much improved coverage of vulture movements and better insights into their survival from the nestling stage.
AFRICAN WILD DOGS
Helen Reynolds is now in the final stages of her PhD investigating ‘The importance of pack structure to the conservation management and breeding success of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)’ and will soon complete her data collection of behavioural observations. She has also been researching the causes of significant changes in the dynamics of her study packs and assessing the impact of ecological factors such as habitat type and the presence of lions and elephants on the distribution of African wild dogs. Her findings should help explain how and why dogs utilise specific areas within any wildlife reserve, facilitating better prediction of their home range movements, links to habitat and prey availability and the avoidance of predators and other species. This knowledge can only help improve the chances of survival and success for any African wild dogs that are relocated from perilous places and introduced to a new safe area.
Over the last two years Helen has presented her fascinating findings at various wildlife conferences in the UK and Africa, and continues to work directly with reserve and conservation managers in Africa. She also helps to inspire and educate volunteers about African wild dogs and the importance of her research to their protection and future.
Worth Wild Africa previously provided trail cameras and IT hardware for Helen in 2022 and now seeks to raise further funds to purchase a more powerful laptop, hard drives for data storage and social network analysis books to assist her on the final stages of her study. Later, this kit will also help her disseminate the knowledge gained from her research to wildlife reserve managers and other professionals concerned with the conservation, management and maintenance of the genetic diversity of this gravely endangered magnificent predator.
The Cheetah Research Project (CRP) in Namibia has been radio collaring and collecting biological samples from free-ranging cheetahs on Namibian farmland for over 20 years. WWA previously supported CRP research into how the species’ strong innate immunity compensates for their low genetic variability in the wild and facilitates good health in the population.
The CRP is now working on the oxidative stress coping-capacity of cheetahs. Studies of ‘normal‘ stress evaluate hormones, such as cortisol but measuring oxidative stress provides information about the molecular damage induced by free radicals and on the antioxidant mechanisms that anticipate that damage. Healthy cheetah have few free radicals and high antioxidant levels, while stressed animals are the opposite. The CRP research aims to test whether the cheetahs high coping capacity for oxidative stress arises from that strong innate immunity and good health. Coping capacity is measured in the leukocytes (white blood cells) and this requires a sophisticated ‘Leukocyte Coping Capacity‘ machine costing US$5000. WWA seeks to raise $2000 towards that purchase price with this appeal.
Please see https://www.cheetah-research.org for more information about this and other fascinating projects. The CRP is lead by Dr. Bettina Wachter from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany https://www.izw-berlin.de
The Brown Hyena Project (BHP), near Luderitz on the spectacular Namibian coast, has been conducting long term studies of this population of a remarkable species in the Tsau/Khaeb (Sperrgebiet) National Park since 1997. The resident Brown Hyenas rely heavily on the Cape Fur colonies for food, mainly pups both live and dead, and some individuals also travel more than 50km from their home base territory to exploit the Baker's Bay seal colony currently under study. Some have even adapted to become diurnal visitors to the area to avoid competition with the residents and so the behaviour and population dynamics of these hunter/scavengers is both unique and fascinating in this stunning environment by the sea (https://www.strandwolf.org/projects/baker-s-bay.html).
To further understand the brown hyena population at Baker’s Bay, WWA is seeking to raise funds for the BHP project to purchase more satellite GPS collars. With some large scale industrial developments taking place in the park in the near future, GPS-derived data will enable the project to have a better understanding of the hyenas' land use and advise about limiting the ecological impact on this unique population, ensuring its long term conservation and survival.
The Black-footed Cat Working Group [BFCWG] is the only organisation studying the ecology of the species and promoting its conservation through research and outreach in Namibia and South Africa. The few existing populations are found mainly on private farmland outside formally protected areas which makes assessment and study of this shy and largely nocturnal small cat all the more challenging. The species has the most restricted range of all Africa’s wild cat species and is now so rare that it is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.
In the first studies on black-footed cats in Namibia, the BCFWG initially captured and radio-collared six females, subsequently monitoring several litters of kittens and conducting much needed research into the ecology of free-ranging black-footed cats. In late 2022, four males and six females were fitted with radio collars to total eleven study animals between 2020 and 2023. Very low precipitation during the 2022-23 rainy season resulted in the loss of two males and four females by October 2023. This was likely due to dogs when the hungry cats approached human villages in search of food, or perhaps through predation by other carnivores and disease. A six-hour aerial search flying 800km of transect lines found no signals from any of the missing cats’ radio collars in December 2023 and it was sadly concluded that all of the original study cats must have succumbed.
This vital project must therefore begin afresh and WWA seeks to assist the BCFWG by raising $2000 in this appeal to help with the purchase of telemetry equipment, thermal imaging monoculars and trail cameras. Night surveys are already underway in areas with confirmed records of black-footed cats to locate viable populations for study. Once a suitable site has been located, it is hoped to capture a number of Black-footed cats and fit them with radio collars to further research their ecology and assess their conservation status, to investigate and identify threats and find strongholds for conservation, and to educate and raise awareness for this little-known precious small wild cat species.
Photo credits (left to right):
Dr Alex Sliwa fitting a VHF radio collar to a wild free-ranging black-footed cat (credit: Beryl Wilson)
A black-footed cat wearing a radio collar showing black soled feet (credit: Alex Sliwa)
Tracking radio-collared black-footed cats in the arid south of Namibia (credit: Alex Sliwa)