Twenty-six conservation biology professionals from around the world were carefully selected to attend the International Cheetah Conservation Biology Training Course, in partnership with Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s African Cheetah
Initiative and the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. Course participants represented academic institutions, conservation NGOs, government departments, and zoological parks across five continents; I
was the only representative from Europe.
Hosted by CCF at it’s Research and Education Centre near Otjiwarongo, Namibia this course trained participants in proven methods of wild cat conservation through an intensive program of lectures and practical sessions led by researchers, conservationists and predator specialists from Namibia, Botswana and USA, among others. Modules primarily covered topics such as large-scale conservation, management plans and human-wildlife conflict, as well as habitat assessments for carnivores, vegetation studies, leadership and managment skills, livestock predator identification, population viability modeling, scientific writing and presentation skills, and theory and practical sessions on ecological and sociological research techniques.
To apply these newly-learned skills, the group travelled to the Sesfontein Conservancy in Namibia’s northwest to conduct sociological surveys focusing on human-wildlife conflict and assisted with training courses which advised farmers and community members how to better manage livestock to reduce predator problems. Participants were also taught about cheetah husbandry and health and gained experience in cheetah immobilisations, conducting health exams and collecting biomedical samples.
An internationally-recognised centre of excellence in research and education on cheetahs and their ecosystems, CCF maintains a major public conservation awareness and education program for local and international communities and school groups and assists with the management and conservation of captive and free-ranging cheetahs throughout the world.