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Saharan Cheetah filmed at Ahaggar, southern Algeria

Northwest African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki) was filmed by remote cameras at the Ahaggar Cultural Park in the Algerian Sahara.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Saharan Cheetah (a.k.a. Northwest African Cheetah) spotted again in the Ahaggar Mountains in Tamanrasset, southern Algeria. The news was announced today during a press conference by Salah Amokrane, the director of the Algerian Cultural Parks project (PPCA).

The Saharan Cheetah was filmed by camera traps at Atakor in the heart of the Ahaggar in Marsh 2020. The remote cameras were set up by the scientific team of the Ahaggar Cultural Park Office (ONPCA). A short video of the cheetah trying to climb a tree was shared in the press conference (see the video below).

Northwest African Cheetah filmed by remote cameras at the Ahaggar Cultural Park, southern Algeria (ONPCA). Cropped from the original photo shown below.

The PPCA director explained that this project mobilized “around fifty agents of the ONPCA from different specialities for 120 days, using among others 40 camera traps operating continuously. This generated a new database of more than 230,000 photos which are under study”.

Speaking by videoconference from Tamanrasset, the ONPCA director Hamoud Amerzagh explained that “these research missions carried out in 2017, 2019 and then in March 2020 followed a rigorous scientific protocol and the involvement of the inhabitants of the Park and their knowledge and expertise”.

Critically endangered and living in a low density

The Saharan Cheetah is a critically endangered Cheetah subspecies with a patchy distribution in Central Sahara and the Sahel. Because of the harsh Saharan environment, the Saharan Cheetah lives in a very low density.

A study carried out in the Ahaggar Cultural Park between 2008 and 2010 using camera traps estimated the cheetah density between 0.21–0.55/1,000 km2 (Belbachir et al. 2015). The authors of the study noted that this is one of the lowest densities of a large carnivore ever recorded in Africa. They also estimated the average home range size of an animal over 2–3 months to be 1,583 km2.

Reference

Belbachir, F., Pettorelli, N., Wacher, T., Belbachir-Bazi, A. & Durant, S. M. 2015. Monitoring Rarity: The Critically Endangered Saharan Cheetah as a Flagship Species for a Threatened Ecosystem. PLOS ONE 10(1): e0115136.

Video: Northwest African Cheetah trying to climb a tree filmed by remote cameras at the Ahaggar Cultural Park, southern Algeria (March 2020).
Saharan cheetah / Guépard saharien (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), Ahaggar Cultural Park, Algeria, March 2020 (ONPCA)
Saharan cheetah / Guépard saharien (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), Ahaggar Cultural Park, Algeria, March 2020 (ONPCA). Original photo.

Some mammal news:

Sand Cats at Merzouga, Morocco (2 individuals in February and June 2019).

Sand Cats resting in bird nests in Western Sahara, southern Morocco.

Mhorr Gazelle declared extinct in Tunisia (2020).

6 thoughts on “Saharan Cheetah filmed at Ahaggar, southern Algeria”

  1. Hope you haven’t given away the location to hunters. I get the need to publicize but its a huge risk.

    1. Thanks Wang for your concern! I think that the Algerian authorities know what they are doing in this respect, and I can assure you that illegal hunters won’t reach the cheetahs for several reasons. First, the area is very large and rugged and it’s seldom visited by hunters from outside the region (either foreigners or Algerians from other regions). Second, the low density and secretive behaviour of the animals make it even harder for outsiders (foreigners or other Algerians) to track them without the help of the local people.

    1. Malheureusement, nous n’avons pas de données récentes sur cette espèce rare. Cependant, s’il existe encore au Maroc, ce doit être dans la zone comprise entre la région du Bas Draa et le Jbel Aydar au sud-ouest.

      Voir cet article récent :

      Herrera-Sánchez, F.J., Gil-Sánchez, J.M., Álvarez, B. et al. (2020). Identifying priority conservation areas in a Saharan environment by highlighting the endangered Cuvier’s Gazelle as a flagship species. Scientific Report 10: 8241. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65188-6

      Et son résumé en français ici : https://harmusch.wordpress.com/2020/05/29/detection-de-zones-de-conservation-prioritaires-dans-le-sahara-a-laide-de-la-gazelle-de-cuvier/

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