Critically endangered Saharan cheetah photographed in Algeria24/02/2009 02:16:23 New evidence of critically-endangered cat
February 2009. The first camera-trap photographs of the critically endangered Northwest African or Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki) in Algeria have been recorded by scientists led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Office du Parc National de l'Ahaggar (OPNA).
Four different cheetahs photographed
The photographs were taken as part of the first systematic camera trap survey across the central Sahara, covering an area of 2,800 km². The survey identified four different Saharan cheetahs using spot patterns unique to each individual.
Sand cat and oryx
This survey additionally provided photographic confirmation of sand cat Felis margarita presence in Algerian Central Sahara, and confirmation of past presence of the scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah through the collection of a horn. Scimitar-horned oryx are now extinct in the wild.
"The Saharan cheetah is critically endangered, yet virtually nothing is known about the population, so this new evidence, and the ongoing research work, is hugely significant," said Dr Sarah Durant, Zoological Society of London Senior Research Fellow. Farid Belbachir, who is implementing the field survey, adds: "This is an incredibly rare and elusive subspecies of cheetah and current population estimates, which stand at less than 250 mature individuals, are based on guesswork. This study is helping us to turn a corner in our understanding, providing us with information about population numbers, movement and ecology."