Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Tourism may reduce cheetah numbers

  • Written by  Laura Cole
  • Published in Wildlife
Tourism may reduce cheetah numbers
03 Oct
2018
Unchecked tourism is potentially reducing the number of cheetah cubs that survive to adulthood

While protected areas are generally designed to be safe havens, unchecked human pressures can have a negative impact,’ says zoologist Femke Broekhuis, lead author of a new study by the University of Oxford that has raised questions about levels of tourism in protected areas.

The study focused on female cheetahs and their litters in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Cheetahs have litters of one to six cubs, few of which make it to adulthood. The study claims that the predator's already low cub survival rate is made even worse by tourist pressure. It found that one or no cubs survived to adulthood in tourist-prone areas, while an average of two cubs survived in areas with low levels of tourism.

The higher mortality rate is likely to be caused by poor food supplies for the cubs. ‘Cheetahs, especially those with cubs, are a major tourist attraction and commonly attract large numbers of vehicles,’ says Broekhuis. ‘High tourist numbers have been found to negatively impact cheetah hunts, and even if a hunt is successful, the presence of tourists can result in a cheetah abandoning its kill.’ 

Cheetah numbers are already being squeezed. Predation from lions and hyenas as well as habitat reduction means the big cats have experienced drastic population decline. In fact, their numbers are thought to have halved in Kenya in the past 40 years to around 7,000 individuals. They have also disappeared from 91 per cent of their historic range.

While Broekhuis is eager to stress the positive role of conservation, she also admits the results are ‘worrying’ and suggests a number of changes in the conservation parks – such as stricter limits on the number of cars allowed near the animals, and bans on approaching known cheetah lairs. ‘Growth rates for cheetahs inside the protected areas need to be high if they are to compensate for declines outside of them,’ she concludes.

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Climate

Marco Magrini looks at the financial pressures spilling out into the…

Geophoto

Few sights are more dramatic than a star-filled sky at…

Polar

A region of Antarctica previously known for relative stability is…

Tectonics

Everything we thought we knew about eruptions could be wrong

Oceans

Sea levels are rising across the globe, but along the…

Polar

Seismometers buried in the Ross Ice Shelf have revealed that…

Wildlife

A tightening of restrictions on the insecticides known as neonicotinoids…

Wildlife

Bonnethead sharks, the second smallest member of the hammerhead family,…

Nature

There’s more than enough plastic in the world. That’s why,…

Wildlife

The recent discovery of more than 200 million termite mounds…

Geophoto

The new year still remains a popular time to set…

Wildlife

After decades battling environmental crises that threaten to rob the…

Climate

As another new year beckons and the fight to protect…

Geophoto

A half century has passed since the ‘Earthrise’ photograph – widely believed to have…

Wildlife

Are howler monkeys being adversely affected by ingestion of pesticides containing…

Tectonics

Why unprepared tourists are putting themselves at risk in order…

Geophoto

The majestic and mighty polar bear is in danger of…

Wildlife

Exciting news for wildlife and photography enthusiasts alike – the…

Wildlife

A new system of robotic aerial vehicles is revolutionising the…

Wildlife

Technology used in creating safe urban environments is now being…