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The cheetah, the fastest terrestrial animal, has widespread appeal amongst wildlife biologists and enthusiasts alike. However, like all large carnivores, it is increasingly threatened by habitat loss and its status is now classified as 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN. This is the first comprehensive study of cheetah biology in an arid environment, a major component of its current distribution range. Kalahari Cheetahs brings together results from an intensive six year study of the cheetah by the authors in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa and Botswana. It documents a wealth of detailed and direct observations of cheetah population biology and behavioural ecology, adopting an evolutionary approach and providing a conceptual framework for future research and applied management in the context of global environmental change.
Kalahari Cheetahs covers topics such as optimal foraging theory, hunting strategies and predator prey relations, mating systems and reproductive strategies and success, inter-specific competition, demography, social organisation, and population limitation. Comparisons with previous cheetah studies reveal the variability of ecological determinants on behaviour, and the behavioural flexibility and ability of these carnivores to adapt to different environments.
This advanced textbook is suitable for graduate level students as well as professional researchers in felid behavioural ecology and conservation biology. It will also be of relevance and use to conservationists, wildlife managers, and African wildlife enthusiasts.
2: Morphometrics, demographics and genetic viability
4: Prey selection and the impact of cheetah predation on prey populations
5: Twenty-four hour activity patterns and distances moved
6: Hunting behaviour
7: Foraging success
9: Coexistence and the cheetah's relations with other carnivores.
10: Socio-spatial organisation and spatial ecology
11: Breeding, cub survival and female reproductive success
12: The Mating System
13: Conservation issues around cheetahs
Dr Gus Mills has spent 40 years conducting research on African large carnivores and is currently Research Fellow at the Lewis Foundation, South Africa. He has written five books and authored or co-authored 140 scientific papers, as well as delivered over 80 talks at conferences and symposia worldwide. He is a senior member of several IUCN Carnivore Specialist Groups, including former Chair of the Hyaena Specialist Group, and member of the steering committees of the Cat Specialist Group and the Canid Specialist Group. He serves as a member on several boards of scientific journals and conservation organisations and has consulted widely on carnivore conservation issues in Africa and Asia.
Margie Mills holds a BSc degree in Zoology from Cape Town University. She worked with her husband, Gus, on the Kalahari hyaenas and cheetahs. She has co-authored a number of scientific papers with him on the brown hyaena and cheetah as well as two books.
"The first word of the first chapter of this magnificent monograph is 'adaptation'. One needs read no further to understand the essence of the book and the perspective from which the authors view life. [...] Gus, together with co-author Margie, have delivered an invigorating homage to the Kruukian, indeed ultimately Tinbergian and, dare I say, Oxford approach."
– David W. Macdonald, African Journal of Wildlife Research
"I found this book extremely interesting, loaded as it is with facts and illustrations about the diet, hunting behaviour, breeding and survival of cheetahs. The authors have made a valuable contribution to our understanding of the behaviour and survival of a top predator, and in so doing have joined an elite band of eminent authors in this field."
– Brian W. van Wilgen, South African Journal of Science