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Land Use and Prey Density Changes in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya: Implications for Cheetah Conservation

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PAGE 1

LAND USE AND PREY DENSITY CHA NGES IN THE NAKURU WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY, KENYA: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHEETAH CONSERVATION By MEREDITH MORGAN EVANS A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2004

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Copyright 2004 by Meredith Morgan Evans

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This thesis is dedicated to my parents. Thank you for all of your love and support.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my committee (Mel Sunquist, Madan Oli and Mike Binford) for their advice and support in the development and completion of this project. Jane Southworth and Theresa Burscu also gave me much-appreciated help and encouragement in all stages. I am extremely grateful to the members of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, especially Mary Wykstra and Cosmas Wambui, for giving me their time and expertise, and for allowing me to share in their research. I am also indebted to the members of the Nakuru Wildlife Forum for allowing me access to their properties, and for their kind hospitality and cooperation. I gratefully acknowledge the Kenyan government for allowing me to work in their wonderful country. I also thank the University of Florida for financial support through an Alumni Fellowship, without which this work would not have been possible. I must also thank Dr. Stephen Humphrey and the School of Natural Resources and Environment for the purchase of satellite imagery. And finally, I am extremely grateful to all of my family and friends whose tremendous support and constant encouragement helped me get through difficult times. This project would not have been as strong as it is without their love, advice, and nagging. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................ix CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Background...................................................................................................................2 Features of Susceptibility......................................................................................3 Effects of Prey on Carnivores................................................................................3 Human-Predator Conflicts.....................................................................................5 Factors Affecting Cheetah Declines......................................................................6 Description of Problem.................................................................................................8 Purpose of Study...........................................................................................................9 2 STUDY DESIGN.......................................................................................................10 Study site....................................................................................................................10 Image Processing........................................................................................................12 Image Acquisition and Pre-Processing................................................................12 Image Classification............................................................................................14 Habitat Types.......................................................................................................17 Prey Density Estimates...............................................................................................20 Data Collection....................................................................................................20 DISTANCE Analyses..........................................................................................25 Potential Cheetah Population Size.......................................................................27 NWF and LNNP Counts.............................................................................................28 3 RESULTS...................................................................................................................30 Classification..............................................................................................................30 Landcover Change......................................................................................................36 Prey Densities.............................................................................................................38 v

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Prey Density Changes Over Time..............................................................................40 4 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................43 Cheetah Population Trends.........................................................................................43 Landcover Change......................................................................................................45 Direct Consequences of Landcover Change........................................................47 Indirect Consequences of Landcover Change.....................................................49 Conclusion..................................................................................................................52 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................55 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................61 vi

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 Bandwidths for Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 5 TM satellite imagery........................13 2 Regression equations used to radiometrically correct the 1986 image to the 2003 image........................................................................................................................14 3 DISTANCE models used in analyses............................................................................27 4 Accuracy results for 2003 landcover classification.......................................................35 5 Accuracy results for 2003 suitability classification.......................................................35 6 Landcover change in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, (NWC), 1986 to 2003..........37 7 Class metrics for the 1986 and 2003 classifications......................................................37 8 Density estimates for prey species in grassland and bushland habitats.........................38 9 Potential cheetah population estimates as predicted by prey biomass...........................40 10 NWC wide prey density estimates and regression analyses of density changes.........42 11 Cheetah sightings in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy: 2000-2002..........................45 vii

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 Map of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya........................................................11 2 Spectral profiles of eight landcover classes...................................................................18 3 Representative images of seven landcover classes........................................................21 4 2003 landcover classification.........................................................................................31 5 1986 landcover classification.........................................................................................32 6 2003 suitability classification........................................................................................33 7 1986 suitability classification........................................................................................34 viii

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science LAND USE AND PREY DENSITY CHANGES IN THE NAKURU WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY, KENYA: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHEETAH CONSERVATION By Meredith Morgan Evans December 2004 Chair: Melvin Sunquist Major Department: School of Natural Resources and Environment Originally found throughout Africa outside of the Sahara and into Asia, the cheetah has disappeared from much of its former range and is under threat in those areas where it still exists. The current decline of cheetah populations has been attributed largely to habitat loss and a decline in prey densities. I attempt to explain the cause of the putative decline of the cheetah population, Acinonyx jubatus, in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy (NWC), Nakuru, Kenya. I examined prey density data for the NWC and analyzed land-use changes between 1986 and 2003 as possible correlates of the purported reduction in the cheetah population. To analyze and quantify landcover change, three Landsat satellite images from Path 169, Rows 60 and 61 were acquired representing the entire study area, and were classified separately using a combination of the supervised and unsupervised classification methods. Information on the density of prey species in different habitat types was collected using transects, and was analyzed with the program DISTANCE. Changes in prey density over time were determined by regressing the ix

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average density for the whole conservancy with time. Grassland landcovers in the conservancy were reduced by almost 16%, while bush increased almost 13%, and marginal areas overall increased almost 15%. The biggest changes were seen in the developed and baresoil classes, with increases of 348% and 290%, respectively. Preferred prey were found in higher densities in grassland areas as compared to bushland, although large and small prey showed no significant differences. Only preferred prey and Thompsons gazelle were shown to have declined significantly in density since 1996. Results indicate that recent changes (1986-2003) in landcover and prey availability within the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy are insufficient to explain the marked decline of cheetahs in the area. Other factors, such as high human densities in NWC and proliferation of small scale agriculture in the surrounding areas, should be explored as possible explanations for the cheetah population decline. x

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Originally found throughout Africa outside of the Sahara and into Asia, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) has disappeared from much of its former range, and is under threat in those areas where it still exists. Little more than half the countries in Africa that once contained cheetahs still retain populations. Of those, only 1/3 support viable populations. The largest population can currently be found in Namibia, with about 2,000-3,000 animals. Kenya has the second largest population, with between 1,000 and 2,000 animals. The populations in Asia have been lost completely, except for a relict population of about 200 in Iran (Marker-Kraus et al., 1996; Marker-Kraus and Kraus, 1993). Many explanations for this decline have been put forth, including loss of habitat, decline in prey abundance, genetic homozygosity, inter-specific competition, and persecution by people; but few have been demonstrated in field studies (Myers, 1975b; Eaton, 1974; Caro, 1994; Gros, 1998; Marker et al., 2003). My objective was to evaluate the cause of the reported cheetah population decline in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya by focusing on changes in prey densities and landcover patterns as factors that may have resulted in habitat loss for cheetahs and their prey. Once the cause is determined, management recommendations can be made to mitigate or even reverse this trend. An explanation for cheetah declines and management recommendations to address it could be applicable to other predator populations as well. 1

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2 Background All continents except for Antarctica host populations of endangered or threatened carnivores. The red wolf (Canis rufus), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), and some populations of the mountain lion (Puma concolor) are found in North America. In Africa, most of the large cats are considered at least threatened, while the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is endangered. Asia is home to the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), dhole (Cuon alpinus), all endangered tiger (Panthera tigris) populations, and several other carnivore species such as the panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus). South America is home to the vulnerable spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the jaguar (Panthera onca), and several species of small felids (IUCN, 1996). Large carnivores face threats from many different directions including habitat loss, direct and indirect conflict with humans, disease, and loss of genetic diversity. These problems are exacerbated as human populations grow and expand into new areas, changing the landscape and pushing carnivores into smaller and smaller areas. Conflict is increased as predators move into neighborhoods, encounter domestic animals, and compete with humans for resources and space. A major cause of population declines in carnivores is direct persecution by people. Wolves (Mech, 1995) and African wild dogs (Frank and Woodroffe, 2001) were considered vermin, and were subjected to government policies to systematically remove them from their ranges, even from national parks. Carnivores are also shot for control purposes to reduce depredation on livestock or to protect people from possible attacks. Lions (Panthera leo) are regularly shot, and spotted hyena clans (Crocuta crocuta) are poisoned in the Laikipia District of Kenya to protect livestock (Frank, pers. comm.). Increased contact with humans and their pets have

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3 affected carnivores by possibly increasing the incidence of diseases such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, causing devastating losses in certain populations. The domestic dog population adjacent to the Serengeti and Masai Mara National Parks in East Africa was implicated in the canine distemper virus outbreak that killed 30% of the lion population (Roelke-Parker et al., 1996). Finally, the fracturing of populations into isolated groups because of habitat fragmentation and loss has potentially increased the level of genetic homozygosity in some species and populations, making them less adaptable and more vulnerable to changes in the environment. Features of Susceptibility Large carnivores are especially susceptible to population pressures because of their biology and behavior. Carnivores usually maintain exclusive territories and exist naturally at low population densities. They also have low reproductive output, with long inter-birth intervals resulting in low recruitment rates into a population. Many species of carnivores such as the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) have low genetic diversity, making them even more vulnerable to changes in the environment and unable to adapt (Roelke et al., 1993). Finally, carnivores often come into conflict with people over competition for resources such as prey, livestock, and space (Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson, 2001). As humans affect all species, this conflict can have profound effects on carnivores, because their populations are often regulated by the quantity and quality of available food resources. Effects of Prey on Carnivores Carrying capacity has been defined by Goss-Custard and Durell (1990) and restated by Sutherland and Anderson (1993) as those cases where the addition of a further individual will result in the death or emigration of another. By removing prey resources

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4 from a system, the carrying capacity is reduced, and fewer carnivores can be supported. The quality and quantity of prey resources available in an ecosystem can determine the fitness of the carnivores that depend on them; and can regulate the carnivores density, distribution, and home range size (Fuller and Sievert, 2001; Sunquist and Sunquist, 1989; Kruuk, 1986). A decrease in the quality or quantity of available food can have both direct and indirect demographic effects. A lack of food can result in compromised physical fitness, leading to an increase in adult mortality. For example, a period of hare scarcity in parts of Canada coincided with high levels of adult lynx mortality, due at least in part to starvation (Poole, 1994). Low food abundance can also have indirect effects, compromising reproductive ability and the capacity to successfully raise offspring to independence. In San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica), a decrease in prey biomass resulted in a decrease in reproductive success and in the density of adult foxes the next year (White and Ralls, 1993). Low prey densities affected the nutritional status of wolves and consequently they produced smaller litters (Boertje and Stephenson, 1992). Lion and cheetah mothers are both known to abandon cubs in times of food scarcity or when they have difficulty in securing sufficient prey (Hanby et al., 1995; Caro, 1994). Prey densities also affect the space-use pattern of carnivores, by affecting home range configuration and territory size. Lions found in the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania, where prey resources are abundant year round, live at higher densities and have smaller ranges than their conspecifics on the Serengeti plains, where prey densities remain low except during the migration season (Hanby et al., 1995). Coyotes (Canis latrans) in Utah were shown to have larger territories and home-range sizes during periods of low prey abundance (Mills and Knowlton, 1991). When home ranges expand

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5 in response to a decrease in food or other resources, the density of carnivores found in any given area is consequently reduced. Human-Predator Conflicts One of the major causes of declines in carnivore populations is conflict with humans, resulting in both direct and indirect mortality due to exploitation, competition for resources, and the control of problem animals. The exploitation of carnivores for products and parts to sell on a commercial market and sport hunting has reduced some populations to alarmingly low numbers. Spotted cats have been exploited for their pelts while tigers and bears are killed for their bones and gall bladders, respectively, for use in Asian medicines (Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson, 2001). Carnivores also face competition with humans for resources such as prey and space. In the past, humans have considered large carnivores such as wolves and pumas as competitors for game species, and have consequently removed them to increase game populations. For example, wolves are controlled through harvesting in interior Alaska to increase ungulate biomass (Boertje and Stephenson, 1992). Space is also an issue, as large carnivores generally have large spatial requirements. Human population expansion is inevitably eroding the land available to carnivores, leading to the formation of small, isolated populations with reduced opportunities for gene flow. The conversion of natural areas to human-dominated landscapes characterized by agriculture, housing developments, livestock ranching, and other hostile uses of land further constrain movement and foraging. Carnivores and other wildlife species are often actively discouraged from using land under cultivation or around human settlement for fear of losing life, limb, or a source of income. Roads often intersect carnivore territories, resulting in barriers to dispersal and movement, fragmentation of

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6 habitat and mortality caused by collisions with vehicles (Smith, 1999; Sunquist and Sunquist, 2001). As humans and their domestic animals move into carnivore territories, increased levels of depredation can occur, resulting in the loss of carnivores killed for control purposes. In Nepal and Kenya, snow leopard (Oli, 1994) and lion (Frank, pers. comm.) populations are threatened due to their depredation on local livestock. Factors Affecting Cheetah Declines Cheetahs are as vulnerable to population decline as any other carnivore, perhaps even more so, because of the low density at which they are normally found. In one area of Namibia, home ranges varied from 800 km 2 for males to 1,500 km 2 for females (Morsbach, 1987). In the Serengeti, lions occur at a density 3-5 times greater than cheetahs while spotted hyenas live at densities 5-10 times greater (Laurenson et al., 1992). Interspecific competition has been implicated in the low cheetah densities found throughout their range. Because of this competition, cheetahs avoid areas where competitors are found, both temporally and spatially (Durant, 1998 and 2000). Cheetahs lose their kills to lions, hyenas and other competitors and are also killed directly by them (Myers, 1975a; Caro, 1994). In the Serengeti, 73% of the cheetahs that die before adulthood are killed by other carnivores, making predation the largest source of mortality for cheetahs in this area (Laurenson, 1994). Therefore, it has been suggested that the cheetahs best chance for survival will be through conservation in areas outside of national parks as national parks are often refuges for the other large carnivores (Caro, 1994; Gros, 1998). Rangelands become the next best option as long as ranchers and other property owners can be convinced of the desirability of allowing these creatures on their land.

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7 Another factor adding to the cheetahs vulnerability is their genetics. OBrien et al. (1986) report that of the 250 species that had been studied, the cheetah has the least amount of genetic variety. The lack of genetic diversity makes the cheetah susceptible to stochasticity in the environment. While loss of genetic diversity has not been shown to cause declines in populations on its own (Caro and Laurenson, 1994), it can be a contributing factor if it keeps a population from adapting to a changing environment (OBrien et al., 1985). The current decline of cheetah populations has been attributed largely to habitat loss and a decline in prey densities (Caro, 1994; Marker-Kraus and Kraus, 1993; Myers, 1975b). While there have been many studies of cheetahs, few have looked at them outside national parks. The works of Caro (1994), Durant (1998, 2000), and Kelly, Laurenson and Fitzgibbon (1998) were done in the Serengeti. Eaton (1974) studied them in Nairobi National Park. Other studies concentrated on captive populations or populations under direct persecution by humans. Yet it has been stated that the cheetahs best hope for survival lies in their conservation outside of protected areas. Cheetahs in Kenya face the same pressures as cheetahs in other parts of their range. Gros (1998) concluded that the population of cheetahs in Kenya has remained stable between 1970 and 1990, but these figures are based on comparisons of densities in two national parks. She also goes on to say that the majority of cheetahs in Kenya live outside of parks, so the conclusion she reached of a stable population may not be applicable to the majority of the population or the land they inhabit. The land inside national parks is unlikely to have changed extensively due to its protected status, whereas land outside of parks will more likely face pressures from a growing human population

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8 for conversion to human uses. The Nakuru area has experienced extensive growth in the last 17 years due to the growth of the flower industry and human population growth in general (Wykstra, pers. comm.). Most likely, a variety of factors are contributing to the decline in the cheetah population of Nakuru, but habitat loss affecting prey densities and the cheetah directly are probably the most significant contributors. As these issues have the potential to affect carnivores everywhere, any insight into their impacts would be beneficial for the development of management schemes addressing habitat loss and its effects. Description of Problem In 2000, members of the Nakuru Wildlife Forum (NWF), a group comprised of private and public land owners and managers who work together to make landscape level management decisions for the benefit of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy (NWC), contacted the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia to express their concern about cheetahs in the NWC area. They had noticed a decline in the cheetah population and in wildlife numbers in general since the early 1990s, and were wondering what the cause of the decline could be. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) set up a satellite program in the Nakuru area of Kenya with the primary purpose of estimating the current cheetah population size and the cause of a decline, if it did in fact exist. The Nakuru-Naivasha area encompassed by the conservancy has experienced phenomenal growth in the human population with the growth of the commercial flower farm industry along Lake Naivasha. It has also experienced a large amount of growth in developed areas due to the infrastructure necessary to support the flower industry and the workers employed there. The large growth in the human population combined with the growth in developed areas

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9 are most likely having a negative impact on the wildlife found in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy area. Purpose of Study The purpose of this study is to evaluate the two leading hypotheses for the cause of the putative decline of the cheetah population in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Nakuru, Kenya. Factors most likely affecting the Nakuru population include changes in availability of their preferred prey species, and habitat loss or degradation, though other possibilities exist. I examined prey density data for the NWC and analyzed land use changes over the last 17 years as possible correlates of the purported reduction in the cheetah population. With this information, steps can be taken to stop or reverse the cheetah population decline, thus conserving them in the Nakuru area.

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CHAPTER 2 STUDY DESIGN Study site This study was conducted throughout and immediately surrounding the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, a 350,000 acre area managed by the Nakuru Wildlife Forum and located in the Nakuru District of Kenya, NW of Nairobi (-0 27 54 latitude and 36 12 4 longitude) (Figure 1). A variety of land uses are found in the NWC, including cattle ranching, subsistence and commercial agriculture, flower farming for export, government holdings and three national parks. The third largest city in Kenya, Nakuru, is found just north of the northern end of the conservancy. Two other important towns in the area are Gilgil and Naivasha. The area is mostly semi-arid savanna with grassland and leleshwa (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) and acacia (Acacia sp.) bushland. Forests of yellow fever acacia (Acacia xanthophloea) are found along the three lakes and rivers. There are two rainy seasons, the short rains fall in October and November while the long rains fall from March through June. NWC sustains a diverse wildlife community, though many of the large and destructive mammals have been killed or driven out of the area, including elephants and lions. Spotted hyenas are persecuted but they have managed to maintain a small but steady population. The local people who make up the NWC suspected a decline in the population of cheetah and other wildlife in the last 15 years (1985-2000) and approached the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to determine the cause. An increase in the human density has 10

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11 occurred in the same time that the wildlife densities had decreased (Wykstra-Ross and Marker, pers. comm.). A survey conducted by Gros in 1990 (Gros, 1998) supports the idea that the cheetah population in Nakuru is declining. Currently, very little is known about the populations of cheetahs, their prey or of competitor species in the Nakuru area. Figure 1. Map of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

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12 Image Processing To analyze and quantify landcover change, three Landsat satellite images from Path 169, Rows 60 and 61 were acquired representing the entire study area. The dates used for the analysis were 28 January 1986, 06 February 1995 and 04 February 2003. Care was taken to choose images with anniversary dates as close together as possible to minimize differences in spectral signatures of vegetation and other landcovers due to seasonal variation. While these dates did not fall within the time frame of field work, they were chosen due to their ease of acquisition and availability. Landsat images have a pixel size of 28.5 m x 28.5 m giving them a spatial resolution fine enough to distinguish details in the landscape that would be seen by cheetahs and their prey. All image processing was done in Leica Systems Erdas Imagine 8.6 unless otherwise indicated. Image Acquisition and Pre-Processing 2003: The 2003 image is an Enhanced Thematic Mapper (1G) image (ETM+) from Landsat 7. The 1G designation indicates that the image has been radiometrically and geometrically corrected by USGS. The study site crosses two images but the image acquired from USGS had the two scenes mosaicked together. The image was reprojected into UTM WGS84 37S, to match the coordinate system of the points collected in the field. No further image pre-processing was done to the 2003 image and the final result was a 6 band image made up of three visible bands, one near infrared band and two mid-infrared bands. The band widths can be found in Table 1. The thermal and panchromatic bands were not included because I did not think they would add enough useful information. The 2003 image was used as the reference scene for geometrically and radiometrically correcting the 1986 and 1995 images.

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13 Table 1. Bandwidths for Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 5 TM satellite imagery Band ETM+ TM 1 (blue) 0.45-0.52 0.45-0.52 2 (green) 0.53-0.61 0.52-0.60 3 (red) 0.63-0.69 0.63-0.69 4 (NIR) 0.78-0.90 0.76-0.90 5 (MIR1) 1.55-1.75 1.55-1.75 7 (MIR2) 2.09-2.35 2.08-2.35 1986 and 1995: The 1986 and 1995 images are Thematic Mapper images from Landsat 5 downloaded from the University of Maryland Global Land Cover Facility. The two scenes that make up the study site were downloaded separately and mosaicked together using a feathering process to blend the areas of overlap. The images were geometrically corrected to the 2003 image using 50 to 60 points with a final RMS value of less than 0.25 pixel and reprojected to the same coordinate system as the 2003 scene. The histograms for all six bands of the 1986 and 1995 images were matched to the 2003 image and radiometric corrections were performed on both images using the method described in Jensen (1996) as multiple-date empirical radiometric normalization using regression to reduce differences between them and the 2003 image caused by atmospheric attenuation. Nineteen radiometric control points were chosen so that they fell on areas that did not change spectrally over time, generally permanent lakes, patches of bare soil, rock and roads. Digital numbers were recorded for bands 1-5 and 7 and a linear regression analysis performed on each. R 2 values were all greater than 0.9. Final equations and R 2 values are given in Table 2. The resulting equations were applied as the correction to the image. Both images were subset to an area slightly greater than the boundaries of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy. I was unable to follow the exact boundaries of the NWC

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14 because I was not able to acquire information that would allow me to find them accurately enough on the image. Table 2. Regression equations used to radiometrically correct the 1986 image to the 2003 image. Band Correction equation R 2 value 1 y=0.943751x-30.2539 0.9240 2 y=1.529852x-16.0622 0.9298 3 y=1.212533x-11.2657 0.9061 4 y=1.030524x+2.8338 0.9506 5 y=0.582207x+5.1756 0.9685 7 y=0.778132x+6.0936 0.9400 Image Classification All three scenes were classified separately using a combination of the supervised and unsupervised classification methods (Jensen, 1996). In principle, each landcover has a unique spectral reflectance in the bands that make up the image. These differences in spectral reflectance can be used to classify an image by selecting and grouping together those pixels with similar signatures. When doing a supervised classification, the user creates training signatures by defining training sites on the image which delineate known, homogeneous ground covers. Training sites are selected based on ground truthing data, shapes associated with specific ground covers and in situ knowledge of the area. Ground truthing data were collected in the field by recording the coordinates of landcover patches with a minimum size of 100 m x 100 m using a Garmin 76 GPS receiver. Other information collected included dominant vegetation type, ground cover type, open or closed canopy, and landuse where applicable. When a coordinate could not be taken from the center of the patch, distance and direction to the center of the patch were recorded.

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15 In an unsupervised classification, the computer program divides the pixels into the specified number of classes based on spectral similarities without reference to outside sources of information. The steps outlined below describe the classification process for each of the three images. There were slight differences in the number of steps necessary for complete image classification between years. A normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was created from bands 3 and 4 to show differences in vegetation biomass. This calculation (B4-B3/B4+B3) has been shown to be useful in distinguishing land cover types with varying amounts of vegetation (Jenson, 1996). A tasseled cap analysis (TCA) was created to bring out land cover differences in brightness (layer one), greenness (layer two) and wetness (layer three). I discarded the other layers created by a TCA because they do not yield enough useful information. The NDVI and the first three layers of the TCA were stacked onto the original six-layer image resulting in a 10-layer image used in all subsequent analyses. A principal components analysis (PCA) was performed on the 10-layer image. The major components of the first principal component were band 5, the NDVI and the brightness layer of the TCA and accounted for over 95% of the variation in the images. A 3-class ISODATA unsupervised classification was performed on the PCA, set to 20 iterations and a convergence value of 95%. The resulting classes included water; areas of heavy, healthy vegetation (forest); and areas of low green biomass and high soil or senescent vegetation (savanna). The three classes were used to create masks to break the 10-layer image into two images to be further classified separately. Forest was left on its own while the water and savanna classes made up the second section. A 15 class ISODATA unsupervised classification was performed on the forest section following the parameters outlined above. Each of the resulting classes was inspected and placed into one of three categories: badland, bush or forest, based on their spectral signatures and knowledge of the area. Each category was recoded to 1, 2 or 3 and used to create masks to further break the forest image into 3 images to be further classified separately. Similar steps were followed for the savanna section of the original image except that a 20 class unsupervised classification was performed and the resulting classes placed into one of six categories: water, urban, bush, grass, baresoil and mud. At this point, some of the individual pieces were left as they were because they represented only one landcover type. The remaining pieces were either further

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16 subdivided by the method already outlined, or classified using a supervised classification scheme. Whether a supervised or unsupervised classification scheme was applied next depended on how many landcover types were represented in the piece. For the supervised classifications, training sites were taken from ground truthing data and familiarity with the area. They were created by outlining the edges of the training area or by using the area of interest (aoi) seed tool set to a spectral euclidian distance of 10. The aoi seed tool is used to collect neighboring pixels with similar spectral characteristics to create a training area. When the seed pixel is chosen, the program inspects each neighboring pixel to see if it is spectrally similar based on parameters set by the user. If a pixel is similar, the program then inspects the neighbors next to it. This continues in a stepwise process until all similar, neighboring pixels are selected or until the maximum number of pixels is reached. Once each piece was classified, they were recoded to one of 9 landcover types: developed, agriculture, bush, badland, open forest, closed forest, baresoil, grassland and water. Descriptions of types are given below. Finally, the pieces were mosaicked together using the maximum overlay function to produce the final, complete classified image. A second set of classified images was created by collapsing the nine classes already created into three based on the ability of cheetahs to exploit them. These classes are as follows: suitable (grassland), marginal (bush, open forest and baresoil) and unsuitable (badland, closed forest, developed, agriculture and water). Further descriptions are given below. The classified images were further processed to remove isolated pixels that were most likely misclassified and within a matrix of dissimilar pixels. An accuracy assessment of the 2003 image showed that this process did not improve overall accuracy but rather made it worse by about 3%. However, the 1986 and 1995 images had greater problems with isolated pixels and I believed that while removing them did not improve the 2003 image, it would improve the other classification. For this reason, I decided to reassign the class of all clumps less than 3 pixels in size to the value of the majority of

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17 surrounding pixels. The 2003 image needed to be processed in the same way to make comparisons between years possible. The accuracy of the 2003 image was assessed by randomly selecting 256 points and determining their actual landcover based on field work and knowledge of the area. This was then compared to the classified image using the accuracy assessment function in Erdas Imagine 8.6. The resulting four classified images were each analyzed separately using FRAGSTATS 3.3 to examine differences in classes between and within years. The following indices were used: (1) total area (ha); (2) number of patches; and (3) mean patch size (ha). Edge metrics were not considered because cheetahs are landscape species and are not confined to a single habitat type. They readily move between landcovers and exploit multiple habitat types. Habitat Types Representative signature histograms for eight of the nine landcover classes are shown in Figure 2. Agriculture was not included. Each crop will have a unique signature so graphing them would be difficult and uninformative. Figure 3 shows pictures of the different landcovers. Closed forest: This landcover type is dominated by yellow fever acacia (YFA), Acacia xanthophloea, in the NWC area. It grows to 25 m in height and is most commonly found around lakes, rivers and in areas with high ground water and black cotton soil. YFA generally grows in single species stands. Other tree types that may be found in this landcover category include blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), pine (Pinus sp.), euphorbia (Euphorbia bussei, E. candelabrum and other sp.), and deciduous mixed hardwoods, though YFA are by far the most common. The hardwoods are confined to

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18 hills and other areas that have not yet been exploited for agricultural or settlement purposes. Closed forests have an understory that is difficult to penetrate and which hinders movement. It is dominated by the shrub Pluchea bequaertii, a symbiotic species. Open forest: Open forests are made up almost exclusively of YFA. It differs from the closed forest category in that the understory is dominated by grasses, forming an open, parkland landscape. Like the closed forest category, open forest is usually found near lakes, rivers and other waterways. S p ect r a l P r o f i l es o f L a n d co v e r C l a s s e s 0 50 100 150 200 250 12345 6 789 1 0 P i x e l V a lu e s Gr a s s Bu s h Ba d l a n d Ba r e s o i l Op e n F o r e s t C l os ed F o r e s t D e v e l oped Wat er Figure 2. Spectral profiles of eight landcover classes Grassland: Grassland areas are dominated by grass species with some low-lying herbaceous plants present. Much of this landcover type consists of dead biomass and patches of bare soil though green grass can be found around Lake Naivasha. Bushland: Bushland areas are dominated by shrubs, bushes and low-lying trees interspersed with grasses and patches of bare soil. Bushland and grassland areas are continuous with varying proportions of bush to grass. The most common type of

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19 bushland found in the conservancy is mixed stands of leleshwa and acacia sp. with proportions varying in different areas. Other types of bushland include croton, grewia and rhus. Agriculture: Agriculture is areas of landscape modified for the purpose of growing crops, either at the subsistence level or for commercial purposes. Agriculture areas may also contain some structures such as single-family homes, storage sheds or buildings used to support the industry. Developed: Developed areas are landscapes consisting of extensive human modifications dominated by built structures where the landscape is unrecognizable from its original form. Examples include urban areas, villages, flower farms (greenhouses), roads, buildings and other similar structures. Water: Lakes, rivers and streams. Badlands: Badlands are areas of thick bush found specifically on old lava flows and other types of rocky outcrops. There are many species of bushes and herbaceous species that occur in this landcover type including Aloe sp., Croton sp., Euphorbia sp., Acacia sp., Grewia sp., Rhus sp. and others. Grasses in this type of landcover are sparse. Areas of badland are very difficult to penetrate due to the thickness of the bush and the spines and thorns associated with them. Bare soil: Areas of bare soil include mudflats found around the lakes, degraded lands and cleared patches around urban areas. The landcover types already described were further refined to give three land-use types relevant to cheetahs. The landcovers were placed in one of three categories: suitable, marginal or unsuitable.

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20 Suitable: This category includes those areas where cheetahs are most likely to set up residence for an extended period of time. Cheetahs are creatures of the open plain. They are more particular about the areas they choose to live than other large African felids and require habitats that meet their unique needs. Two features high on the list of priorities are open space to see their prey and the room to run to attain the high speeds necessary for capturing prey. Grassland is the only classification that meets these two requirements. They are also the areas where game is most abundant. Grassland is the only landcover type that would be considered suitable for cheetahs. Marginal: Marginal areas are those where cheetahs are known to be found but they support a lower density of preferred prey species, making them unable to support as large a cheetah population as found in grassland areas. Marginal areas can also be used by cheetahs as movement corridors. Land cover types that make up this category include bushland, badland, bare soil and open forest. Unsuitable: These landcover types would be avoided by cheetahs and include developed, closed forest and agricultural areas. Cheetahs are shy creatures and avoid areas with high human presence as found in agricultural and developed areas. Closed forests and badlands would also be avoided as they would be too thick for a cheetah to easily pass through. Prey Density Estimates Data Collection Information on the density of prey within different habitat types was collected using line transects. It was necessary to determine the density of potential prey species in the NWC to see if a decline in prey availability could account for the loss of cheetahs and to determine suitability of different land cover classes for supporting cheetahs. For this

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21 A B C Figure 3. Representative images of seven landcover classes. A) Grassland. B) Bushland. C) Open forest. D) Closed forest. E) Bare soil and water. F) Developed. All pictures taken by M. Evans

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22 D E F Figure 3. Continued

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23 analysis, I began by conducting a series of transects using the protocols as described by Buckland et al. (2001) for use in the program DISTANCE 4.1 (Thomas et al., 2003), a computer program that analyzes transect data to determine animal densities. For DISTANCE to give accurate results, three fundamental assumptions must be met when designing and conducting the survey: (1) Objects on the . line are always detected; (2) Objects are detected at their initial location, prior to any movement in response to the observer; (3) Distances (and angles where relevant) are measured accurately . or objects are correctly counted in the proper distance interval (Buckland et al., 2001; pg 18). I began by randomly choosing one thousand sets of geographic coordinates within and immediately surrounding the study area using the program ArcView 3.2 to meet another assumption of DISTANCE, that transects are laid out randomly. The points served the dual purpose of use as testing sites for the satellite image classification. I chose the large number because I knew not all points would be accessible or usable. I also did not have exact coordinates for the study site and knew some of the points would fall outside of the NWC. One thousand compass points were then randomly chosen by the program Microsoft Excel and paired with the geographic coordinates. Three habitat types were censused with transects including grass, bush and open yellow fever acacia forests. These habitat types were most likely to be used by cheetahs based on their vegetative structure and potential prey populations. Other habitat types available in the area were either too developed or too thick to be included in the census. I decided that the likelihood of a cheetah using a developed or agricultural area regularly was low enough that I could safely classify those areas as unsuitable without doing prey transects

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24 in them. It was also very clear that developed areas had high human densities and generally low wildlife densities. Natural areas that were not censused included badlands and forests with thick undergrowth where it would be impossible to ensure that assumptions one and two were not violated, and where safety from buffalo was a concern. These are also areas cheetahs are not known to inhabitat. Transects were conducted in suitably large patches of individual habitat that could possibly be used by cheetahs, with the starting point determined by the random point closest to an edge of the habitat. Walking direction was determined by the compass direction associated with the starting point. On at least one occasion, the perpendicular direction was used due to ease of walking. At least two observers were used at all times. When an animal of interest was sighted, information on species, number (cluster size), sex, age, UTM position of observer, distance from observer (transect line), and angle from north was recorded. Distance and angle were recorded to where the animals were first sited. Angles from north were later converted to angle from the line. Transects were walked at a speed of 1-2 km per hour from one end of the habitat type to the other, at which point a parallel line was walked in the opposite direction, offset from the first by 200-500 meters, depending on line of sight distance. This process was repeated until the entire habitat area was covered, or until it became too dark to continue. Care was taken to avoid double counting animals on different transect legs. It was noted whether or not groups moved in the direction of the next transect leg. If so, then any group with a similar size and composition found on the next leg was not counted. This was rarely an issue.

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25 Thirteen transects were walked for a total of 19.4 km in grassland habitats and 35.9 km in bush/ open forest habitats. Transects were walked in the early morning hours starting at about 6:30 hour or in the afternoon starting at about 16:30 hour. These are the times when wildlife is most active and therefore most likely to be seen. It is also when cheetahs most actively hunt. Transect data were analyzed using the program DISTANCE. The species censused were those found in the area and known to be preyed upon by cheetahs. They included zebra (Equus burchelli), eland (Tragelaphus oryx), waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus), thompsons gazelle (Gazella thomsoni), grants gazelle (Gazella granti), impalas (Aepyceros melampus), warthogs (Phacochoerus aethiopicus), hares (Lepus capensis), guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) and dik dik (Madoqua kirkii) (Graham, 1966; McLaughlin, 1970; Eaton, 1974; Burney, 1980, Frame, 1986; Caro, 1994). Thompsons gazelle, grants gazelle and impalas are considered primary prey species for this study as they represent between 62% and 75% of cheetahs diet in studies conducted in Kenya (McLaughlin, 1970; Eaton, 1974; Burney, 1980). DISTANCE Analyses Data required for DISTANCE to do the analyses include transect number, cluster size, radial angle from line (this was calculated based on angle of the line from north), distance from line and total length of transect. Total length of transect was calculated by adding up the lengths of the individual legs of each transect. All analyses were based on cluster size as most of the species recorded occurred in groups rather than as individuals. Counts in open YFA and bush were pooled together as there were not enough sightings in either habitat type to give good results. Also, the habitats had similar characteristics.

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26 The sightings were divided into different groups based on body size and habitat. Groups analyzed included: large herbivores (>40 kg) in grass, large herbivores in bush, thompsons gazelle in grass and bush, impala and grants gazelle in grass and bush, small herbivores (<12 kg) in grass and bush and preferred prey in grass and bush. Large herbivores included zebra, eland, waterbuck and hartebeest. Small herbivores included hares, dik dik, steinbok and guinea fowl. Warthogs were censused but not included in the analyses as they did not fit easily into any of the categories and there were not enough of them to analyze separately. DISTANCE assumes that the animals being counted have the same probability of detection if they are being analyzed together. I believe that this assumption is not violated with the groupings I have made as the species in each group are of similar size and provide similar visual cues (Buckland et al., 2001: pg 302). For the analyses, a natural log transformation was applied in DISTANCE to the cluster size for all groupings because of the large variation seen in cluster size between groups. The transformation reduces the influence of a few large cluster sizes on the estimation of density. For those analyses done on groupings in the bush, perpendicular distance from the line, yi, was replaced with g(yi) in the regression. G(yi) is the estimated detection function from the fit of the selected model to the distances from the line or point to detected clusters. (Buckland et al., 2001). This corrects for the problem of a shoulder in the detection function where mean cluster size does not increase with distance until detection distance exceeds the width of the shoulder. (Buckland et al., 2001). The same correction was not applied to the groupings in grass habitats because detection did not vary with distance due to the nature of the terrain. Only the small bush

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27 group was truncated 5% at the right tail due to some distant outliers that made modelling the regression line problematic. Five models were run for each of the groupings and Akaikes information criterion (AIC) values compared to choose which model gave the most robust results. In those instances where AIC values differed by less than two, model choice was also based on goodness of fit tests provided by DISTANCE. Those models in each of the groups with the lowest AIC values and the best fit were chosen to report results (Table 3) (Buckland et al., 2001). Table 3. DISTANCE models used in analyses Key function Series expansion Uniform Cosine Uniform Simple polynomial Half-normal Cosine Half-normal Hermite polynomial Hazard-rate Cosine Hazard-rate Simple polynomial Differences in densities between bush and grassland habitats for each group were tested using a T-test as described in Buckland et al. (2001). The biomass of preferred prey species in each habitat type was calculated from the density. The total biomass for the group was calculated by multiplying the density estimate for the group by the average body mass of the group. Average body mass was calculated by multiplying the number of times a species was seen in a habitat by that species average body mass as reported by Schaller (1972) and Caro (1994), adding up the body masses for all individuals and dividing the total by the total number of animals from that group. Potential Cheetah Population Size The potential number of cheetahs the NWC could support was calculated using two methods. I used the regression equation of Gros et al. (1996) to predict cheetah biomass

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28 per unit area based on prey biomass (y = 0.002x + 0.21) in the Nakuru area. I also followed Emmons (1987) by assuming that 70% of a prey individual was edible and that cheetahs could take 10% of the prey population per year. I divided the resulting available biomass by a cheetahs average yearly food requirement (calculated from the average daily requirement of 4 kg/day (Schaller, 1972)) to again determine the potential cheetah population size for the NWC. NWF and LNNP Counts The Nakuru Wildlife Forum has conducted biannual game counts since October of 1996 throughout the conservancy area, with the exception of 2001. Counts on all properties are conducted on the same day at the same time to reduce the possibility of double counting animals. The different properties are divided into blocks based on configuration of roads, vegetation and area to be covered. Teams of counters consisting of at least one driver, one spotter and one recorder drive through each block and get total counts of all mammal species encountered. Except for some Lake Nakuru National Park (LNNP) counts, information about sex or age of animal, and vegetation type is not recorded. The block counts are later compiled into total counts for each property and for the total conservancy to track changes in game counts over time. Only the fall counts were used for this study. There was some evidence of biannual fluctuations in animal numbers so only those counts that coincided with the timing of the density counts were used. Because the number of properties participating in the counts, and thus the total area surveyed, varied over time, total counts of wildlife numbers could not be used for comparison purposes. Instead, yearly average density was calculated by dividing the total number of animals counted throughout the survey by the total area surveyed. In order to detect statistically significant changes in density, average density was regressed

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29 against year using Microsoft Excel. Individual species were tested as well as preferred prey as a group and large prey as a group. Small prey were not tested. Not all of the species included in the DISTANCE analyses were counted as part of the forum counts. Also, forum counts are usually conducted from a vehicle rather than on foot, reducing the likelihood of accurately counting small mammals.

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CHAPTER 3 RESULTS Classification The final classifications for the 1986 and 2003 scenes can be seen in Figures 4 through 7. The 1995 classification was not included because the results of the classification did not make sense, which I think is related to problems with the classification itself rather than actual landcover changes. The overall accuracy for the nine class 2003 classification was 70.3%. Kappa statistics and producers and users accuracy are summarized in Tables 4 and 5. The errors associated with the classification occurred between grass and bush, grass and agriculture, closed forest and open forest, urban and baresoil, and bush and open forest. Forty of 76 misclassified points occurred between grass and bush. These are continuous habitat types and defining where the cutoff between grass and bush occurs spectrally was difficult. Im sure that those areas of pure bush or pure grass were correctly classified, but areas with sparse bush or thick grass are the areas most likely to have been classified incorrectly. Six of the misclassifications occurred between grass and agriculture. A common crop grown in the NWC is wheat, making grass and agriculture easy to separate when creating training sites based on shape of agricultural plots, but difficult to separate spectrally. Their signatures were quite similar and therefore often confused in the final classification. Bare soil in the NWC is often very lightly colored, and local soils can be used as building materials, making the spectral signatures for these classes similar. It was impossible to sufficiently separate developed from baresoil areas despite repeated attempts, especially along lake shores. 30

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31 Figure 4. 2003 landcover classification. Enhanced Thematic Mapper image of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 04 February 2003.

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32 Figure 5. 1986 landcover classification. Thematic Mapper image of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 28 January 1986.

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33 Figure 6. 2003 suitability classification. Enhanced Thematic Mapper image of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 04 February 2003.

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34 Figure 7. 1986 suitability classification. Thematic Mapper image of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 28 January, 1986.

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35 The problem with closed forest vs. open forest is similar to grass vs. bush. These landcover classes occur along a continuum. Also, if open forests have a closed canopy, they could easily be confused with closed forest. Eleven of the misclassifications occurred between bush and open forest. Confusion between these landcover classes is not surprising considering the similar make up of green trees/ bushes interspersed with grass. The overall accuracy for the three-class 2003 classification was 73.8%. The problems with this classification were similar to those for the nine class classification, most notably the misclassification of bush and grass resulting in the misclassification of the suitable and marginal habitats. Table 4. Accuracy results for 2003 landcover classification Overall accuracy: 70.3% Kappa Statistic: .5824 Class Kappa Producers Error Users Error 1 0.6640 100.00 66.67 2 0.5803 25.00 60.00 3 0.4967 74.51 69.72 4 0.8951 75.00 90.00 5 0.8437 27.27 85.71 6 0.2411 33.33 25.00 7 0.8280 62.50 83.33 8 0.4800 77.63 63.44 9 1.0000 100.00 100.00 Table 5. Accuracy results for 2003 suitability classification Overall Accuracy: 73.8% Kappa Statistic: .5766 Class Kappa Producers Error Users Error 1 0.4611 77.63 62.11 2 0.5871 72.73 80.00 3 0.7899 70.83 82.93

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36 Landcover Change Habitat suitable for cheetah and its prey decreased between 1986 and 2003 from 113,970 ha (46.5% of the landscape) to 95,969 ha (39.1% of the landscape), respectively. This is a loss of 18,001 ha, or 15.8% of suitable landscape in a 17-year period. During this same time, marginal lands increased from 94,891 ha (38.7%) to 108,843 ha (44.4%), an increase of 13,952 ha, or 14.7%. Unsuitable area also increased, from a low of 36,202 ha (14.8%) in 1986 to 40,339 ha (16.5%) in 2003, an increase of 4,137 ha, or 11.4%. The increase in marginal areas was due to a growth of the bush class and a large increase in the bare soil class that comprised the marginal category. Bush increased by 10,654 ha (12.9% increase) while bare soil increased by 6,934 ha, an increase of 290%. The increase in unsuitable areas was due mostly to an increase in developed areas, from 562 ha to 2,517 ha, an increase of 349%. Table 6 summarizes landcover changes between 1986 and 2003. There were also changes in patch dynamics over the 17-year period. The average size of grassland and suitable patches, calculated as the sum of the area of all patches of a particular type divided by the total number of patches of that type, decreased between 1986 and 2003. Grassland patch size decreased from 16.04 ha to 13.8 ha. The number of patches for this class remained about the same between years (1986: 7,158; 2003: 7,084). Suitable patches decreased from 15.4 ha to 12.4 ha. The number of patches also remained about the same for this category (1986: 7,391; 2003: 7,744). The marginal category saw an increase in the number of patches, from 7,958 to 9,360, but the average size of the patches remained about the same (1986: 11.92 ha; 2003: 11.62 ha). Within the marginal category, the number of patches of bush decreased (9,354 to 7,865) but the average size of those patches increased (8.85 ha to 11.88 ha),

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37 possibly indicating the consolidation and growth of patches originally found in 1986. Baresoil patches stayed about the same size (1986: 2.55 ha; 2003: 2.50 ha) but there was a dramatic increase in the number of them, from 939 to 3,736. For the unsuitable category, average patch size decreased from 5.36 ha to 3.86 ha, but the number of patches increased from 6,758 to 10,440. Urban areas increased in patch numbers (1986: 934; 2003: 1,380) and in average patch size (1986: 0.60 ha; 2003: 1.82 ha) (Table 7). Table 6. Landcover change in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, (NWC), 1986 to 2003 Landcover class 1986 (ha) 2003 (ha) Change (ha) % Change Suitable 113975 95969 -18006 -15.80 Grassland 114824 97767 -17057 -14.85 Marginal 94909 108843 13934 14.68 Bush 82822 93461 10640 12.85 Baresoil 2388 9324 6935 290.39 Open forest 8954 5416 -3538 -39.52 Unsuitable 35777 40339 4562 12.75 Developed 561 2517 1956 348.75 Agriculture 4351 3930 -421 -9.68 Badland 7876 9196 1321 16.77 Closed forest 3569 5165 1596 44.72 Water 19316 18376 -941 -4.87 Table 7. Class metrics for the 1986 and 2003 classifications Landcover class 1986 Number of patches 2003 Number of patches 1986 Average patch size (ha) 2003 Average patch size (ha) Suitable 7391 7744 15.42 12.39 Grassland 7158 7084 16.04 13.80 Marginal 7958 9360 11.92 11.63 Bush 9354 7865 8.85 11.88 Baresoil 939 3736 2.55 2.50 Open forest 2954 4963 3.03 1.09 Unsuitable 6758 10440 5.36 3.86 Developed 934 1380 0.60 1.82 Agriculture 3188 4066 1.37 0.97 Badland 2551 4892 3.16 1.88 Closed forest 1107 2582 3.22 2.00 Water 35 101 558.60 181.94

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38 Prey Densities The density of preferred prey species in grassland habitats was estimated to be 0.628 animals per hectare (95% CI = [0.422, 0.934], CV = 18.7%). In bushland habitat the density estimate was 0.147 animals per hectare (95% CI = [0.048, 0.454], CV = 57.3%). The preferred prey density estimates are significantly higher in the grassland habitat than in the bushland areas (T = 3.328, P<0.003). Prey densities for individual species that make up the preferred prey group are also significantly different between the two habitat types. Thompsons gazelles are found at a density of 0.442 individual per hectare (95% CI = [0.273, 0.715], CV = 22.0%) in grass and 0.068 individuals per hectare in bush (95% CI = [0.022, .207], CV = 57.4%) (T = 3.532, P =0 .003). Impala and grants gazelle were analyzed together. Their density in grass was 0.190 individuals per hectare (95% CI = [0.096, 0.374], CV = 33.9%) and 0.042 individuals per hectare in bush (95% CI = [0.010, 0.174], CV = 73.0%) (T = 2.080. P<0.05). The large prey and small prey groups did not have statistically significant differences in densities between grass and bush. A summary of density estimates for all groups can be found in Table 8. Table 8. Density estimates for prey species in grassland and bushland habitats. Habitat Grass Bush Species/ Group Density (ind./ha) CI CV (%) Density (ind./ha) CI CV (%) Preferred prey* 0.628 0.422, 0.934 18.7 0.147 0.048, 0.454 57.3 Thompson's gazelle* 0.442 0.273, 0.715 22.0 0.068 0.022, 0.207 57.4 Grant's gazelle and impala* 0.190 0.096, 0.374 33.9 0.042 0.010, 0.174 73.0 Large prey 0.138 0.070, 0.271 34.4 0.097 0.045, 0.207 36.5 Small prey 0.147 0.035, 0.613 68.3 0.342 0.180, 0.649 31.1 indicates statistically significant differences between grassland and bushland densities. The large coefficient of variation seen in some of the density estimates is due to a low number of sightings of individuals in those groups. It is also due to the patchy

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39 distribution of individuals in the habitats. Some species were counted on some transects but not on others. For example, thompsons gazelles were counted on all transects for the grassland areas but were missing from three transects conducted in bush. This pattern was also found for large prey. Grants gazelle and impala were missing from five bush transects but were counted on all grass transects. DISTANCE gives unbiased results even with low sighting numbers so the results are valid. Though significant differences were not found in the group densities of large prey and small prey between habitat types, this could be due to the large CV. More transects may have reduced the coefficient of variation and pulled out differences in these groups, especially the small prey groups. However, the small prey that make up the group have an average body mass of less than 4 kg. Even if there were significant differences in densities, it is unlikely that the differences in biomass between habitats, when combined with the other groups, would be enough to significantly impact a cheetahs decision to exploit grassland versus bushland areas. The biomass of preferred prey in suitable areas is 1505 kg/km 2 (95% CI = [1011, 2238]). The biomass of preferred prey in marginal areas is 384 kg/km 2 (95% CI = [125, 1186]). Using Gros et al. (1996), in 1986, the NWC could support a potential cheetah population of 73 (51-107) individuals in suitable areas and 19 (9-49) in marginal areas for a total of 92 (60-156) cheetahs. In 2003, suitable areas could support 62 (43-90) individuals while marginal areas could support 21 (10-56) individuals for a total population of 83 (53-146) cheetahs. Using the method espoused by Emmons (1987), suitable areas could support 85 (57-127) cheetahs while marginal could support 18 (6-56) in 1986 for a population total

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40 of 103 (63-183). In 2003, the potential cheetah population size in suitable areas was 72 (48-107) individuals and 21 (7-64) in marginal areas for a total of 93 (55-171) cheetahs (Table 9). Table 9. Potential cheetah population estimates as predicted by prey biomass. Method Year Habitat Suitable (range) Marginal (range) Total (range) 1986 73 (51-107) 19 (9-49) 92 (60-156) Gros et al. (1996) 2003 62 (43-90) 21 (10-56) 83 (53-146) 1986 85 (57-127) 18 (6-56) 103 (63-183) Emmons (1987) 2003 72 (48-107) 21 (7-64) 93 (55-171) Prey Density Changes Over Time In no instances did population densities increase between 1996 and 2003. Rather, all populations exhibited a decrease of some degree, though regression analyses of changes in prey density indicate a significant decline in only two instances. There has been a significant decline in the density of preferred prey since 1996 from a density of 0.2097 animals per hectare to 0.1207 per hectare (R2 = 0.661, slope = -0.0171, SE = 0.0061). This is due mostly to a decline in thompsons gazelle from 0.1186 animals per hectare to 0.0678 per hectare (R2 = 0.749, slope = -0.0088, SE = 0.0025). Trends for other species were not significant at the 0.05 level. Three trends: large prey, impala and kongoni, were significant at the 0.1 level (large prey: R2 = 0.623, slope = -0.0185, SE = 0.0072; impala: R2 = 0.592, slope = -0.0051, SE = 0.0021; kongoni: R2 = 0.638, slope = -0.0052, SE = 0.0020). A summary of the results for all analyses are given in Table 10. It should be noted that grants gazelle are often mistaken for thompsons gazelle, so the absolute numbers reported in the census may over-represent thompsons gazelle and under-represent grants gazelle. However, thompsons gazelle are more common, and I doubt that misidentification occurs often enough to significantly change the results. As

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41 more counts are conducted in the NWC area, incidences of significant declines in species may increase. Also, the results from the forum counts should be viewed with some caution. They are designed to count all animals within the census area, but the accuracy of the method is not known, nor is the detection probability for the different species being censused. There is no way of knowing what proportion of individuals of each species is missed in the counts. Also, the participants and their level of experience vary from year to year, and there is no way to evaluate inter-observer differences either within or between years. However, the same methods are applied for every count, therefore the results should be comparable and trends over time should be indicative of overall changes.

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Table 10. NWC wide prey density estimates and regression analyses of density changes. 42 Density estimates (ind./ha) R 2 Slope SE 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002 Preferred prey** 0.2097 0.2261 0.1398 0.1272 0.1398 0.1207 0.6610 -0.0171 0.0061 Thompson's gazelle** 0.1186 0.1224 0.0819 0.0830 0.0867 0.0678 0.7492 -0.0088 0.0025 Impala* 0.0715 0.0655 0.0479 0.0353 0.0427 0.0434 0.5918 -0.0051 0.0021 Grant's gazelle 0.0197 0.0382 0.0100 0.0089 0.0104 0.0095 0.3554 -0.0032 0.0021 Large prey* 0.1785 0.1983 0.1054 0.0799 0.1004 0.0854 0.6227 -0.0185 0.0072 Zebra* 0.1189 0.1223 0.0697 0.0598 0.0714 0.0613 0.6348 -0.0106 0.0040 Eland 0.0187 0.0296 0.0158 0.0073 0.0132 0.0109 0.4060 -0.0023 0.0014 Kongoni* 0.0313 0.0388 0.0129 0.0057 0.0094 0.0061 0.6376 -0.0052 0.0020 Waterbuck 0.0096 0.0076 0.0070 0.0071 0.0064 0.0071 0.5118 -0.0004 0.0002 **indicates declines which are statistically significant at the 0.05 level. *indicates declines which are statistically significant at the 0.10 level.

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43 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION Cheetah Population Trends In 1975, Myers (1975b) estimat ed the population of cheetahs to be about 15,000 animals throughout their range, possibly half the population size from the 1960s. The Kenya population at that time was estimated to be less than 2,000 animals and under pressure from loss of habitat due to expl oitation of rangelands for agriculture and livestock ranching. Gros (1998) estimated, base d on available habitat and prey densities, the potential Kenya cheetah population at 10,000, but the actual number was probably closer to 1,000 to 2,000 animals. Accord ing to Gros (1998), the Kenya population overall has most likely remained fairly stable However, in the Nakuru area, the cheetah population appears to have declined. In 1990, Gros (1998) estimated the population to be around 35 animals based on interviews, with th e majority of the re spondents reporting a decrease. Using the same interview technique in 2002, the Cheetah Conservation Fund reported the Nakuru cheetah population to be about 12 animals (Wykstra, pers. comm.). The interview technique has been shown to be the most reliable indirect method for estimating densities of large carnivores (Gros et al., 1996). Using the averaging technique (Gros et al., 1996), Gr os estimated the cheetah population within Lake Nakuru National Park to be about three animals. In 1996, KWS counted two cheetahs within the park during one of their triannual cen suses. One cheetah was counted in 1997. Since then, no confirmed cheetah sightings have been reported and the LNNP cheetah population is believed to be lost. It should be noted that cheetahs do

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44 not persist in areas with high densities of other carnivores, especially lions. Lions kill cheetahs and their cubs and are responsible for 73% of the mortality of cheetah cubs in the Serengeti (Laurenson, 1994). Lions were translocated into LNNP during the 1990s and their population flourished. Twenty-seven lions were seen during one of the 2000 game counts. Game numbers remain high within the park so the loss of cheetahs is most likely attributed to the lion population rather than a loss of prey species. But the LNNP cheetah population could recover. In 2002, two rangers were killed by lions within the park and as a result the lions were killed, only lionesses with cubs were allowed to remain per Kenya law. It is thought that the remaining females will also be killed once the cubs are grown. With the loss of the lions from the park, cheetah recovery in that area is possible. While no confirmed sightings of cheetah within the park have been reported since 1997, one questionable cheetah sighting was made in the fall of 2002. There is some controversy about whether it was actually a cheetah or a leopard. There is also some indication that the distribution of cheetahs within the Nakuru-Naivasha area has changed between 1990 and 2002. Gros (1998) reported 20 cheetahs in the properties north of Lake Naivasha, and 15 individuals in the properties south of it. While the CCF report does not give separate abundance estimates for the two areas, it is clear from the list of sightings that the majority, especially frequent or regular sightings, occurred in the area south of Lake Naivasha. Table 11 summarizes sighting information. Suswa, Hells Gate National Park, Kongoni Game Sanctuary and Kedong all report regular sightings of cheetah on a weekly or monthly basis. Suswa reports regular sightings of mothers with cubs, most likely more than one family group are present on the

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45 property. In contrast, sightings on properties north of Lake Naivasha generally consist of only one or two individuals seen only once or twice. Table 11. Cheetah sightings in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy: 2000-2002 Area of NWC Property Group size and composition Seen regularly? Kekopey Group Ranch One individual No North of Lake Naivasha Kigio One individual No Kigio Two individuals No Marula Two individuals No* Mwariki One individual No* Soysambu Two individuals No Soysambu One individual No Suswa Mother with 6 cubs Yes South of Lake Naivasha Suswa Family groups of 3-4 cubs Yes Suswa Individuals Yes Suswa Family groups up to 5 cubs Yes Kongoni Game Valley One individual No Hell's Gate NP 2-4 individuals Yes Hell's Gate NP One individual Yes Kedong One individual Yes Kedong Mother with 2 cubs Yes Kongoni Game Sanctuary One individual No Kongoni Game Sanctuary Two individuals Yes seen twice Landcover Change Though not quantified, landcover change in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy shows some important trajectories. Grassland in many areas of the conservancy has been replaced by the less productive (in terms of ungulate densities) bushland and baresoil categories. The growth of baresoil is especially apparent along the southern portions of Lake Elementaita, to the east of Lake Nakuru National Park, to the southeast of Elementaita town and the very southern portion of the study site. While overgrazing and poor land management practices have been implicated in the degradation of grassland areas (Milton and Dean, 1995; Kellner and Bosch, 1992), stocking rates of livestock for

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46 individual properties in this livestock area were not recorded. However, they are likely candidates for the increase of baresoil. The growth of bush and other woody species in grasslands, termed bush encroachment (Moleele and Perkins, 1998), is a problem faced by land managers worldwide. In Botswana (Moleele et al., 2002), bush encroachment has been implicated in the loss of high quality rangeland while its growth in savanna areas of South Africa (Roques et al., 2001) has been widely observed. In the Nakuru area, this phenomenon is most apparent in the areas north of Lake Naivasha and between Lakes Nakuru and Elementaita. Livestock ranching has been shown to increase the rate of bush enchroachment (Brown and Archer, 1989; Hudak, 1999). The spread of bush in grasslands occurs most readily where cattle grazing occurs. The Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa experienced a 30% relative increase in bush during a 40-year period due in part to long-term cattle grazing in the area (Hudak and Wessman, 1996). A study of shrub encroachment in Swaziland showed that grazing pressure was a key determinant in the spread of woody species in a lowveld savanna (Roques et al., 2001). Bush encroachment has been shown to radiate out from focal points such as a paddock or water trough, a trend found on a cattle ranch in Tanzania (Tobler et al., 2003). Bushland cover decreased from areas of high cattle intensity to the more extensively used game reserve. Moleele and Perkins (1998) examined fifteen environment variables to explain bush encroachment in Botswana and found that high cattle density was responsible for bush encroachment around boreholes and cattle troughs. Bush encroachment in the Nakuru area is most likely to be caused by cattle due to the importance of this land use in the area.

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47 Another important land-use change for the area is the growth of developed areas. Nakuru town has grown extensively along with Naivasha town. But most obvious is the increase in developed areas along the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. The commercial flower industry has grown enormously since 1986; almost no trace of it can be found in the 1986 image. The developed areas seen in the 2003 images are greenhouses and housing for the thousands of workers who support the industry. Direct Consequences of Landcover Change It is unlikely that the loss of grassland habitat or the increase in bush have had any direct negative effects on the Nakuru cheetah population. While cheetahs prefer open grasslands, they are able to use a wide variety of habitat types, from open grassland to heavy bush. In fact both are necessary to provide food and cover from predators and the heat of the day (Caro and Collins, 1987; Schaller, 1972). In Karamoja region of Uganda, cheetahs prefer open habitats with less than 50% woody cover and grasses of medium length (Gros and Rejmanek, 1999). In Nairobi National Park in Kenya and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, cheetahs use the grassland areas but are also found in the woodlands (Eaton, 1974, Caro, 1994; Schaller, 1972). Myers (1975b) and Hamilton (1986) report that cheetahs are frequently found in bushlands, often because other, more suitable habitats are not available. It is also unlikely that changes in the configuration of marginal and suitable habitats have had a negative effect. In areas where the appropriate habitat makes up more than 20-30% of the total landscape, patch configuration and arrangement are of less importance than habitat amount (Andren, 1994; Fahrig, 1997). This is truer for generalist species and landscape species able to move through less appropriate habitat types to reach suitable patches than for habitat specialists or species sensitive to spatial-temporal pattern of patches (Sunquist and Sunquist, 2001). In 2003

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48 suitable habitat comprised 39% of the landscape while marginal comprised over 44%, both above the threshold level of 30%. Fragmentation is unlikely to play a role in determining the Nakuru cheetah population size until the availability of appropriate habitat, both suitable and marginal combined, falls below that 30% threshold level. Of greater importance is the increase in the amount of unsuitable habitat, especially developed areas. Cheetahs are shy (Schaller, 1972; Hamilton, 1986) with low competitive ability against competitors (Durant, 2000; Durant, 1998). They are less tolerant of human presence than other carnivores and are therefore more likely to avoid areas of high human density. The human population in the Nakuru District has increased by more than 300% between 1969 and 1999. Average density was 137 people/ km 2 in 1999, up from 41/ km 2 in 1969 and 118/ km 2 in 1989, with pockets of greater densities centered around the towns and areas of small scale agriculture. Evidence for the increase can be seen along the southern edge of Lake Naivasha where the area of development has increased from almost nothing to running the length of the shore. The area covered by the three principal towns has also increased dramatically. The influence of developed areas on cheetahs and wildlife in general extends well beyond the mere conversion of suitable habitat to unsuitable. The increase in the human population associated with increased development results in a regular or constant human presence in areas adjacent to developed areas. Dogs, lights, noise and traffic all reduce the probability that a cheetah will exploit areas deemed suitable based on landcover classification alone. As the human population increases, cheetahs are more likely to be disturbed with consequent negative effects. Amur tigers have been shown to be more likely to abandon kills and consume less meat after disturbance by humans (Kerley et al., 2002). Bobcats in

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49 southern California showed little tolerance of urban activities based on the percentage of their home range composed of developed areas (Riley et al., 2003). Woodroffe (2001) has calculated the critical human density for which there is a 50% chance of a carnivore population going extinct. Based on Hamiltons (1986) cheetah survey, Woodroffe has estimated the critical human density for cheetahs in Kenya to be 16.5 people/ km 2 far below the current density in Nakuru. In India, however, the cheetah population did not go extinct until mean human density reached 120 people/ km 2 (in 1901) (Woodroffe, 2001). Clearly there is variation in the ability of cheetahs to adapt to increasing human densities. The variation is most likely due at least in part to the amount of persecution and harassment that the cheetahs must contend with, indicating that cheetahs are not as persecuted in the Nakuru area as they are in other parts of their Kenyan range. Yet some intolerance exists as cheetahs also come into direct conflict with humans over resource use. While the members of the NWF are tolerant of cheetahs on their properties and even encourage their presence, other landowners in the area are not as favorably disposed. Cheetahs are large carnivores known to kill sheep and goats (Frank, pers. comm.; Wykstra, pers. comm.; Marker et al., 2003). Many smaller landowners are unable and unwilling to absorb the cost of livestock losses, and will harass or even kill carnivores to protect their stock (Frank, 1998; Marker et al., 2003). Poaching for skins is also an issue in the Nakuru area. Two cheetah skins along with eight leopard skins were confiscated from a poacher in the fall of 2002 by Kenya Wildlife Services. Indirect Consequences of Landcover Change While the conversion of grassland to bushland habitats is of minor importance to cheetahs directly, it potentially has a much greater indirect effect through food

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50 availability and their preferred prey. Thompsons gazelles, grants gazelles and impala are found at much greater densities in grassland habitats than in bushland areas. The loss of grass will necessarily result in a reduction of the prey available to cheetahs. This trend is evident in the significant decline of thompsons gazelles since 1995, and in the decline of impalas. Gros et al. (1996) and Laurenson (1995a) have demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between the biomass of cheetahs and the biomass of their preferred size class of prey, indicating the importance of prey availability to cheetah success. The amount of prey biomass available to carnivores has been shown to be an important determinant of the number of carnivores a given area can support (Fuller and Sievert, 2001). A positive correlation between prey biomass and carnivore biomass or density has been found for many carnivore species including cheetahs (Laurenson, 1995a; Gros et al., 1996), leopards (Stander et al., 1997), lions (Van Orsdol et al., 1985), tigers (Karanth et al., 2004) and Ethiopian wolves (Sillero-Zubiri and Gotelli, 1995). The effects of prey depletion can be manifested in a carnivore population in a number of different ways. With a decrease in prey resources, some carnivores expand their home range size in response to the reduced carrying capacity. The Triangle region of the Masai Mara, where prey biomass is comparatively low, supports a lower density of lions with larger home ranges than the Sekenani or Musiara regions of the Mara (Ogutu and Dublin, 2002). Ethiopian wolves in areas with low prey densities have larger home ranges and smaller group sizes than wolves in areas with more prey (Sillero-Zubiri and Gotelli, 1995). When prey depletion is modelled in a tiger population, carrying capacity is reduced, the population size decreases and extinction risk for the population increases (Karanth and Stith, 1999). Other effects of prey depletion include suppressed breeding or

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51 increased mortality of cubs (hyenas: Holekamp et al., 1999; lions: Hanby et al., 1995; San Joaquin kit foxes: White and Ralls, 1993; wolves: Boertje and Stephenson, 1992; and cheetahs: Caro, 1994) and increased mortality of adults (lynx: Poole, 1994). In cheetahs, it has been suggested that they expand their home ranges in response to declining prey availability (Caro, 1994). They have also been shown to expand home range size when prey density is high but patchily distributed with areas of low density in between (Caro, 1994). The decrease in density of prey species since 1996 combined with the patchiness of suitable habitat in the study site would result in the reduced carrying capacity of the NWC for cheetahs. When prey densities decline, cheetahs must travel further to locate and acquire sufficient food. Increased energy expenditure to obtain food may have negative consequences on cheetah reproductive rates. Cheetahs generally have large litters with short inter-birth intervals compared to other large felids. The energy requirements to successfully raise a large litter to independence are enormous. When maternal food intake falls below a threshold level of 1.5kg/day, cub growth has been shown to decline sharply (Laurenson, 1995b). In the Serengeti, 95% of cheetahs die before reaching adulthood, with the majority of mortality due to predation by other large carnivores. Only 7% of cub mortality can be attributed to starvation or abandonment (Laurenson, 1994). However, in the Nakuru area, the large carnivores have been either extirpated or their population size suppressed through human intervention. Therefore, cub mortality from depredation has been virtually eliminated, putting greater pressure on cheetah mothers to acquire enough food to raise their large and still intact litters. In this situation, it is probable that prey density would be a more important determinant in

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52 survival and reproductive rates of cheetahs than has been previously seen in other systems. The calculations used to estimate potential cheetah population size based on prey biomass assume that all grassland and bushland patches are equal in their ability to support cheetahs and their prey species. Also, these calculations take into account only preferred prey species, meaning the number the area could support based on total prey biomass may actually be higher. However, the assumption of equal patch quality is not realistic. Not all areas classified as grassland or bushland may be appropriate habitat due to proximity to human habitation or other disturbances. Prey numbers in areas adjacent to high human densities or with poor security may be depressed due to poaching of prey species by people (OBrien et al., 2003). Snares for ungulates are often found along fence lines and in other areas of high ungulate traffic. Considering that in 2003 the Nakuru area could have potentially supported a population of more than 60 cheetahs based on available prey biomass, but the actual size of the population was estimated at 12 (Wykstra, unpublished report) suggests that prey depletion is unlikely to be the primary cause of the current decline in the cheetah population. However, prey densities could become a bigger factor if conversion of grassland to bushland and degradation of grasslands continues. Conclusion The results of this study indicate that recent (1986-2003) changes in landcover and prey availability within the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy are insufficient to explain the marked decline of cheetahs in the area. While grasslands within the conservancy are converting to less appropriate landcovers due to bush encroachment and degradation, there is still sufficient habitat and prey available to support a healthy cheetah population.

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53 However, an increase in human density within the conservancy probably plays a significant role in discouraging cheetahs from using the area to a greater degree (Janis and Clark, 2002); this problem will worsen rather than improve with time as the area continues to grow. Support for this possibility is given by the paucity of cheetahs found in the northern part of the conservancy. Cheetahs may find it difficult to pass through the densely settled area around Lake Naivasha. Other issues cheetahs face include more intensive land conversion and subdivision of larger properties surrounding the conservancy rather than change within the conservancy itself. Subdivided land used for subsistence farming will convert land from suitable or marginal to unsuitable and present a barrier to cheetah movement into the area. This landcover change was identified as a threat to cheetahs in the Nakuru area, especially to the north and west, by Gros (1998) during her survey in 1990. Fritz et al. (2003) found that wildlife in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe were less likely to use sections of the river bordered by agriculture. The negative effect of agriculture on density and diversity of wildlife using the area was greatly enhanced once a threshold level was reached (Fritz et al., 2003). It is likely that the growth of agriculture and subsistence farming in the areas surrounding the NWC has had a similar effect. Members of the Nakuru Wildlife Forum who wish to see a return of cheetahs to their property will have to manage their game populations to maintain a high density of the cheetahs preferred prey species. They will also need to ensure that poaching of prey species and of cheetahs is deterred and that cheetahs are not harassed if they colonize their property. More importantly though, forum members will need to establish and maintain connectivity between the source population of cheetahs to the south of the

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54 Nakuru area, particularly the Masai Mara, and the rest of the conservancy. The Nakuru area has never maintained a high cheetah population. More likely the area was used as a corridor to pass from the southern part of the country to the central highlands and the Laikipia Plateau. But the growth of settled and densely populated areas may have reduced or even closed that corridor.

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LIST OF REFERENCES Andren, H. 1994. Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: a review. Oikos. 71:355-366 Boertje, RD, Stephenson, RO. 1992. Effects of ungulate availability on wolf reproductive potential in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 70(12):2441-2443 Brown, JR, Archer, S. 1989. Woody plant invasion of grasslands: establishment of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa) on sites differing in herbaceous biomass and grazing history. Oecologia. 80:19-26 Buckland, ST, Anderson, DR, Burnham, KP, Laake, JL, Borchers, DL, Thomas, L. 2001. Introduction to Distance Sampling: Estimating abundance of biological populations Oxford: Oxford University Press Burney, DA. 1980. The effects of human activity on cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Mara region of Kenya. M.Sc. thesis. University of Nairobi, Nairobi Caro, TM. 2000. Controversy over behavior and genetics in cheetah conservation. Conservation Biology Series: Behavior and Conservation. 2:221-237 Caro, TM. 1994. Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press Caro, TM., Collins, DA. 1987. Ecological characteristics of territories of male cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Journal of Zoology, London. 211:89-105 Caro, TM., Laurenson, MK. 1994. Ecological and genetic factors in conservation: a cautionary tale. Science. 263:485-486 Durant, SM. 2000. Living with the enemy: Avoidance of hyenas and lions by cheetahs in the Serengeti. Behavioral Ecology. 11(6):624-632 Durant, SM. 1998. Competition refuges and coexistence: An example from Serengeti carnivores. Journal of Animal Ecology. 67(3):370-386 Eaton, RL. 1974. The Cheetah: The Biology, Ecology, and Behavior of an Endangered Species Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, NY Emmons, LH. 1987. Comparative feeding ecology of felids in a neotropical rainforest. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 20:271-283 55

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56 Fahrig, L. 1997. Relative effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on population extinction. Journal of Wildlife Management. 61(3):603-610 Frame, GW. 1986. Carnivore competition and resource use in the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania. Ph.D. dissertation, Utah State University, Logan Frank, LG, Woodroffe, R. 2001. Behavior of carnivores in exploited and controlled populations. In Conservation Biology 5: Carnivore Conservation Ed. Gittleman, J.L., Funk, S.M., Macdonald, Wayne, R.K. University Press, Cambridge Fritz, H, Said, S, Renaud, PC, Mutake, S, Coid, C, Monicat, F. 2003. The effects of agricultural fields and human settlements on the use of rivers by wildlife in the mid-Zambezi valley, Zimbabwe. Landscape Ecology. 18(3):293-302 Fuller, TK, Sievert, PR. 2001. Carnivore demography and the consequences of changes in prey availability. In Conservation Biology 5: Carnivore Conservation Ed. Gittleman, JL, Funk, SM, Macdonald, Wayne, RK. University Press, Cambridge Goss-Custard, JD, Durell, SEA. 1990. Bird behaviour and environmental planning: approaches in the study of wader populations. Ibis. 132:272-289 Graham, A. 1966. East African Wildlife Society Cheetah Survey: Extracts from the report by Wildlife Services. Journal of East African Wildlife. 4:50-55 Gros, PM. 1998. Status of the cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, in Kenya: a field interview assessment. Biological Conservation. 85(1-2):137-149 Gros, PM, Kelly, MJ, Caro, TM. 1996. Estimating carnivore densities for conservation purposes: Indirect methods compared to baseline demographic data. Oikos. 77(2):197-206 Gros, PM, Rejmanek, M. 1999. Status and habitat preferences of Uganda cheetahs: An attempt to predict carnivore occurrence based on vegetation structure. Biodiversity and Conservation. 8(11):1561-1583 Hamilton, PH. 1986. Status of the cheetah in Kenya, with reference to sub-saharan Africa. In Cats of the World: Biology, Conservation, and Management Ed. SD Miller and DD Everett. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C. Hanby, JP, Bygott, JD, Packer, C. 1995. Ecology, demography, and behavior of lions in two contrasting habitats: Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti plains. In Serengeti II: Research, Conservation and Management of an Ecosystem Ed. ARE. Sinclair and P. Arcese. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Holekamp, KE, Szykman, M, Boydston, EE, Smale L. 1999. Association of seasonal reproductive patterns with changing food availability in an equatorial carnivore, the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta). Journal of Reproduction and Fertility. 116(1):87-93

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58 Laurenson, MK. 1994. The extent, timing and causes of juvenile mortality in wild cheetahs and implications for patterns of maternal care. Journal of Zoology, London. 234:387-406 Laurenson, MK, Caro, TM, Borner, M. 1992. Female cheetah reproduction. National Geographic Research & Exploration. 8(1):64-75 Marker, LL. Mills, MGL, MacDonald, DW. 2003. Factors influencing perceptions of conflict and tolerance toward cheetahs on Namibian farmlands. Conservation Biology. 17(5):1290-1298 Marker-Kraus, L, Kraus, D. 1993. The history of cheetahs in Namibia. Swara Sep-Oct 1993 Marker-Kraus, L, Kraus, D, Barnett, D, Hurlbut, S. 1996. Cheetah Survival on Namibian Farmlands; the Research Findings From the CCF Farm Survey. Windhoek: Cheetah Conservation Fund McLaughlin, RT. 1970. Aspects of the biology of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus, Schreber) in Nairobi National Park. M.Sc. thesis, University of Nairobi, Nairobi Mech, DL. 1995. The challenge and opportunity of recovering wolf populations. Conservation Biology. 9(2):270-278 Mills, LS, Knowlton, FF. 1991. Coyote space use in relation to prey abundance. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 69(6):1516-1521 Milton, SJ, Dean, WRJ. 1995 South Africas arid and semiarid rangelands: Why are they changing and can they be restored? Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 37(1-3):245-264 Moleele, NM, Perkins, JS. 1998. Encroaching woody plant species and boreholes: is cattle density the main driving factor in the Olifants Drift communal grazing lands, south-eastern Botswana? Journal of Arid Environments. 40:245-253 Moleele, NM, Ringrose, S, Matheson, W, Vanderpost, C. 2002. More woody plants? the status of bush encroachment in Botswanas grazing areas. Journal of Environmental Management. 64(1):3-11 Morsbach, D. 1987. Cheetah in Namibia. Cat News. No. 6 Myers, N. 1975a. The cheetahs relationships to the spotted hyena: Some implications for a threatened species. Proceedings of the 1975 Predator Symposium Ed. Phillilps, RL, Jonkel, C. University of Montana, Missoula Myers, N. 1975b. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus in Africa. IUCN monograph no. 4

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59 OBrien, SJ, Roelke, ME, Marker, L, Newman, A, Winkler, CA, Meltzer, D, Colly, L, Evermann, JF, Bush, M, Wildt, DE. 1985. Genetic basis for species vulnerability in the cheetah. Science. 227:1428-1434 OBrien, SJ, Wildt, DE, Bush, M. 1986. The cheetah in genetic peril. Scientific American. 254(5):68-76 OBrien, TG, Kinnaird, MF, Wibisono, HT. 2003. Crouching tigers, hidden prey: Sumatran tiger and prey populations in a tropical forest landscape. Animal Conservation. 6:131-139 Ogutu, JO, Dublin, HT. 2002. Demography of lions in relation to prey and habitat in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology. 40:120-129 Oli, MK. 1994. Snow leopards and blue sheep in Nepal: densities and predator: prey ratio. Journal of Mammalogy. 75(4):998-1004 Poole, KG. 1994. Characteristics of an unharvested lynx population during snowshoe hare decline. Journal of Wildlife Management. 58:608-618 Riley, SPD, Sauvajot, RM, Fuller, TK, York, EC, Kamradt, DA, Bromley, C, Wayne, RK. 2003. Effects of urbanization and habitat fragmentation on bobcats and coyotes in southern California. Conservation Biology. 17(2):566-576 Roelke, ME, Martenson, JS, OBrien, SJ. 1993. The consequences of demographic reduction and genetic depletion in the endangered Florida panther. Current Biology. 3(6):340-350 Roelke-Parker, ME, Munson, L, Packer, C, Kock, R, Cleaveland, S, Carpenter, M, OBrien, SJ, Pospischil, A, Hofmann-Lehmann, R, Lutz, H, Mwamengele, GLM, Mgasa, MN, Machange, GA, Summers, BA, Appel, MJG. 1996. A canine distemper virus epidemic in Serengeti lions (Panthera leo). Nature. 381(6578):172-172 Roques, KG, OConnor, TG, Watkinson, AR. 2001. Dynamics of shrub encroachment in an African savanna: relative influences of fire, herbivory, rainfall and density dependence. Journal of Applied Ecology. 38(2):268-280 Schaller, GB. 1972. The Serengeti Lion: A study of predator-prey relations Wildlife Behavior and Ecology Series. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London Sillero-Zubiri, C, Gotelli, D. 1995. Spatial organization in the Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis-large pack and small stable home ranges. Journal of Zoology. 237:65-81

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60 Sillero-Zubiri, C, Laurenson, MK. 2001. Interactions between carnivores and local communities: conflict or co-existence? In Conservation Biology 5: Carnivore Conservation Ed. Gittleman, JL, Funk, SM, Macdonald, Wayne, RK. University Press, Cambridge Smith, DJ. 1999. Identification and prioritization of ecological interface zones on state highways in Florida. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Wildlife Ecology and Transportation. Ed. Evink, GL, Garrett, P, and Zeigler, D. Missoula, Montana Stander, PE, Haden, PJ, Kaqece, Ghau. 1997. The ecology of asociality in Namibian leopards. Journal of Zoology (London). 242:343-364 Sunquist, ME, Sunquist, FC. 1989. Ecological constraints on predation by large felids. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution Ed. Gittleman, JL. Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY Sunquist, ME, Sunquist, FC. 2001. Changing landscapes: consequences for carnivores. In Conservation Biology 5: Carnivore Conservation Ed. Gittleman, JL, Funk, SM, Macdonald, DW, Wayne, RK. University Press, Cambridge Sutherland, WJ, Anderson, CW. 1993. Predicting the distribution of individuals and the consequences of habitat loss: the role of prey depletion. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 160(2):223-230 Thomas, L, Laake, JL, Strindberg, D, Marques, FFC, Buckland, ST, Borchers, DL, Anderson, DR, Burnham, KP, Hedley, SL, Pollard, JH, Bishop, JRB. 2003. Distance 4.1. Release 2. Research Unit for Wildlife Population Assessment, University of St. Andrews, UK.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Meredith Evans received her B.A. in biology with a minor in chemistry from California State University, Chico in December 1994. She then worked as a math and biology teacher for 2 years in a secondary school in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer. After returning home in 1997, she worked as an assistant on a variety of different research projects including a study of salmon and steelhead in northern California, small mammal diversity and abundance in Tanzania and primate demography and anti-predator behavior in Kenya. In 1999, she joined the Laikipia Predator Project and worked as an assistant looking at human-carnivore conflicts in the Laikipia District of Kenya. She began her M.S. degree in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida in 2001. For her research, she investigated the decline of cheetahs in the Nakuru District of Kenya. She will begin the Ph.D. program upon completion of her thesis. 61


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LAND USE AND PREY DENSITY CHANGES INT THE NAKURU WILDLIFE
CONSERVANCY, KENYA:
IMPLICATIONS FOR CHEETAH CONSERVATION














By

MEREDITH MORGAN EVANS


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2004































Copyright 2004

by

Meredith Morgan Evans


































This thesis is dedicated to my parents.






Thank you for all of your love and support.
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my committee (Mel Sunquist, Madan Oli and Mike Binford)

for their advice and support in the development and completion of this project. Jane

Southworth and Theresa Burscu also gave me much-appreciated help and encouragement

in all stages.

I am extremely grateful to the members of the Cheetah Conservation Fund,

especially Mary Wykstra and Cosmas Wambui, for giving me their time and expertise,

and for allowing me to share in their research. I am also indebted to the members of the

Nakuru Wildlife Forum for allowing me access to their properties, and for their kind

hospitality and cooperation.

I gratefully acknowledge the Kenyan government for allowing me to work in their

wonderful country. I also thank the University of Florida for financial support through an

Alumni Fellowship, without which this work would not have been possible. I must also

thank Dr. Stephen Humphrey and the School of Natural Resources and Environment for

the purchase of satellite imagery.

And finally, I am extremely grateful to all of my family and friends whose

tremendous support and constant encouragement helped me get through difficult times.

This proj ect would not have been as strong as it is without their love, advice, and

nagging.





















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page


ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv


LI ST OF T ABLE S .........__.. ..... .___ .............._ vii..


LIST OF FIGURES ........._.___..... .__. ..............viii...


AB STRAC T ................ .............. ix


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......


Background ................. ............... ...............2.......
Features of Susceptibility .............. ...............3.....
Effects of Prey on Carnivores............... ...............3
Human-Predator Conflicts ................. ...............5.................
Factors Affecting Cheetah Declines ................. ...............6................
Description of Problem............... ...............8
Purpose of Study ................. ...............9.................


2 STUDY DE SIGN .............. ............... 10....


Study site .............. ...............10....
Image Processing ............... .... ........... .......... .............1
Image Acquisition and Pre-Processing ................. ............. ......... .......12
Image Classification ................ ...............14.................
Habitat Types............... ...............17.
Prey Density Estimates ................. ...............20........... ....
Data Collection ................. ...............20.................
DISTANCE Analyses............... ...............25
Potential Cheetah Population Size............... ...............27..
NWF and LNNP Counts ................. ...............28................


3 RE SULT S .............. ...............3 0....


Classification .............. ...............3 0....
Land cover Change ................. ...............36.................
Prey Densities .............. ...............3 8....












Prey Density Changes Over Time .............. ...............40....


4 DI SCUS SSION ............_...... ...............43...


Cheetah Population Trends ............_...... ...............43...
Land cover Change ............... .. ......_ .... ...............45..
Direct Consequences of Landcover Change. ........_.._ .... ...._. ..........._....47
Indirect Consequences of Land cover Change ..........._..__........ ...............49
Conclusion ..........._..__....._.. ...............52....


LIST OF REFERENCE S ..............__....._.. ...............55....


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............61....

















LIST OF TABLES


Table pg

1 Bandwidths for Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 5 TM satellite imagery ........................13

2 Regression equations used to radiometrically correct the 1986 image to the 2003
im age. ............. ...............14.....

3 DISTANCE models used in analyses .............. ...............27....

4 Accuracy results for 2003 landcover classification .............. ...............35....

5 Accuracy results for 2003 suitability classification ................. ......... ................35

6 Landcover change in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, (NWC), 1986 to 2003..........37

7 Class metrics for the 1986 and 2003 classifications .............. ...............37....

8 Density estimates for prey species in grassland and bushland habitats. ........................38

9 Potential cheetah population estimates as predicted by prey biomass. ................... .......40

10 NWC wide prey density estimates and regression analyses of density changes. ........42

11 Cheetah sightings in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy: 2000-2002 ..........................45


















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pg

1 Map of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya ................. ....___ ................1 1

2 Spectral profies of eight landcover classes ....._._._ ............ ......_. .........1

3 Representative images of seven land cover classes .............. ...............21....

4 2003 landcover classification ........._.. ............ ...............31...

5 1986 landcover classifieation............... .............3

6 2003 suitability classification .............. ...............33....

7 1986 suitability classification .............. ...............34....
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

LAND USE AND PREY DENSITY CHANGES INT THE NAKURU WILDLIFE
CONSERVANCY, KENYA: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHEETAH CONSERVATION

By

Meredith Morgan Evans

December 2004

Chair: Melvin Sunquist
Maj or Department: School of Natural Resources and Environment

Originally found throughout Africa outside of the Sahara and into Asia, the cheetah

has disappeared from much of its former range and is under threat in those areas where it

still exists. The current decline of cheetah populations has been attributed largely to

habitat loss and a decline in prey densities. I attempt to explain the cause of the putative

decline of the cheetah population, Acinonyx jubatus, in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy

(NWC), Nakuru, Kenya. I examined prey density data for the NWC and analyzed land-

use changes between 1986 and 2003 as possible correlates of the purported reduction in

the cheetah population. To analyze and quantify landcover change, three Landsat

satellite images from Path 169, Rows 60 and 61 were acquired representing the entire

study area, and were classified separately using a combination of the supervised and

unsupervised classification methods. Information on the density of prey species in

different habitat types was collected using transects, and was analyzed with the program

DISTANCE. Changes in prey density over time were determined by regressing the









average density for the whole conservancy with time. Grassland landcovers in the

conservancy were reduced by almost 16%, while bush increased almost 13%, and

marginal areas overall increased almost 15%. The biggest changes were seen in the

developed and baresoil classes, with increases of 348% and 290%, respectively.

Preferred prey were found in higher densities in grassland areas as compared to bushland,

although large and small prey showed no significant differences. Only preferred prey and

Thompson' s gazelle were shown to have declined significantly in density since 1996.

Results indicate that recent changes (1986-2003) in landcover and prey availability

within the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy are insufficient to explain the marked decline of

cheetahs in the area. Other factors, such as high human densities in NWC and

proliferation of small scale agriculture in the surrounding areas, should be explored as

possible explanations for the cheetah population decline.















CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

Originally found throughout Africa outside of the Sahara and into Asia, the cheetah

(Acinonyx jubatus) has disappeared from much of its former range, and is under threat in

those areas where it still exists. Little more than half the countries in Africa that once

contained cheetahs still retain populations. Of those, only 1/3 support viable populations.

The largest population can currently be found in Namibia, with about 2,000-3,000

animals. Kenya has the second largest population, with between 1,000 and 2,000

animals. The populations in Asia have been lost completely, except for a relict

population of about 200 in Iran (Marker-Kraus et al., 1996; Marker-Kraus and Kraus,

1993). Many explanations for this decline have been put forth, including loss of habitat,

decline in prey abundance, genetic homozygosity, inter-specific competition, and

persecution by people; but few have been demonstrated in field studies (Myers, 1975b;

Eaton, 1974; Caro, 1994; Gros, 1998; Marker et al., 2003).

My obj ective was to evaluate the cause of the reported cheetah population decline

in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya by focusing on changes in prey densities and

landcover patterns as factors that may have resulted in habitat loss for cheetahs and their

prey. Once the cause is determined, management recommendations can be made to

mitigate or even reverse this trend. An explanation for cheetah declines and management

recommendations to address it could be applicable to other predator populations as well.










Background

All continents except for Antarctica host populations of endangered or threatened

carnivores. The red wolf (Canzis rufus), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), and some

populations of the mountain lion (Puma concolor) are found in North America. In

Africa, most of the large cats are considered at least threatened, while the African wild

dog (Lycaon pictus) is endangered. Asia is home to the snow leopard (Panthera uncia),

dhole (Cuon alpinus), all endangered tiger (Panthera tigris) populations, and several

other carnivore species such as the panda (Ailuropoda melan2oleuca) and Himalayan

black bear (Ursus thibetanus). South America is home to the vulnerable spectacled bear

(Tremarctos ornatus) and the jaguar (Panthera onca), and several species of small felids

(IUCN, 1996).

Large carnivores face threats from many different directions including habitat loss,

direct and indirect conflict with humans, disease, and loss of genetic diversity. These

problems are exacerbated as human populations grow and expand into new areas,

changing the landscape and pushing carnivores into smaller and smaller areas. Conflict is

increased as predators move into neighborhoods, encounter domestic animals, and

compete with humans for resources and space. A maj or cause of population declines in

carnivores is direct persecution by people. Wolves (Mech, 1995) and African wild dogs

(Frank and Woodroffe, 2001) were considered vermin, and were subj ected to government

policies to systematically remove them from their ranges, even from national parks.

Carnivores are also shot for control purposes to reduce depredation on livestock or to

protect people from possible attacks. Lions (Panthera leo) are regularly shot, and spotted

hyena clans (Crocuta crocuta) are poisoned in the Laikipia District of Kenya to protect

livestock (Frank, pers. comm.). Increased contact with humans and their pets have









affected carnivores by possibly increasing the incidence of diseases such as rabies,

distemper, and parvovirus, causing devastating losses in certain populations. The

domestic dog population adj acent to the Serengeti and Masai Mara National Parks in East

Africa was implicated in the canine distemper virus outbreak that killed 30% of the lion

population (Roelke-Parker et al., 1996). Finally, the fracturing of populations into

isolated groups because of habitat fragmentation and loss has potentially increased the

level of genetic homozygosity in some species and populations, making them less

adaptable and more vulnerable to changes in the environment.

Features of Susceptibility

Large carnivores are especially susceptible to population pressures because of their

biology and behavior. Carnivores usually maintain exclusive territories and exist

naturally at low population densities. They also have low reproductive output, with long

inter-birth intervals resulting in low recruitment rates into a population. Many species of

carnivores such as the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) have low genetic diversity,

making them even more vulnerable to changes in the environment and unable to adapt

(Roelke et al., 1993). Finally, carnivores often come into conflict with people over

competition for resources such as prey, livestock, and space (Sillero-Zubiri and

Laurenson, 2001). As humans affect all species, this conflict can have profound effects

on carnivores, because their populations are often regulated by the quantity and quality of

available food resources.

Effects of Prey on Carnivores

Carrying capacity has been defined by Goss-Custard and Durell (1990) and restated

by Sutherland and Anderson (1993) as "those cases where the addition of a further

individual will result in the death or emigration of another." By removing prey resources









from a system, the carrying capacity is reduced, and fewer carnivores can be supported.

The quality and quantity of prey resources available in an ecosystem can determine the

fitness of the carnivores that depend on them; and can regulate the carnivore' s density,

distribution, and home range size (Fuller and Sievert, 2001; Sunquist and Sunquist, 1989;

Krauk, 1986). A decrease in the quality or quantity of available food can have both

direct and indirect demographic effects. A lack of food can result in compromised

physical Sitness, leading to an increase in adult mortality. For example, a period of hare

scarcity in parts of Canada coincided with high levels of adult lynx mortality, due at least

in part to starvation (Poole, 1994). Low food abundance can also have indirect effects,

compromising reproductive ability and the capacity to successfully raise offspring to

independence. In San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica), a decrease in prey

biomass resulted in a decrease in reproductive success and in the density of adult foxes

the next year (White and Ralls, 1993). Low prey densities affected the nutritional status

of wolves and consequently they produced smaller litters (Boertje and Stephenson, 1992).

Lion and cheetah mothers are both known to abandon cubs in times of food scarcity or

when they have difficulty in securing sufficient prey (Hanby et al., 1995; Caro, 1994).

Prey densities also affect the space-use pattern of carnivores, by affecting home

range configuration and territory size. Lions found in the Ngorongoro Crater of

Tanzania, where prey resources are abundant year round, live at higher densities and have

smaller ranges than their conspecifies on the Serengeti plains, where prey densities

remain low except during the migration season (Hanby et al., 1995). Coyotes (Canis

latrans)trt~r~rt~t~rtrt~ in Utah were shown to have larger territories and home-range sizes during

periods of low prey abundance (Mills and Knowlton, 1991). When home ranges expand










in response to a decrease in food or other resources, the density of carnivores found in

any given area is consequently reduced.

Human-Predator Conflicts

One of the major causes of declines in carnivore populations is conflict with

humans, resulting in both direct and indirect mortality due to exploitation, competition

for resources, and the control of problem animals. The exploitation of carnivores for

products and parts to sell on a commercial market and sport hunting has reduced some

populations to alarmingly low numbers. Spotted cats have been exploited for their pelts

while tigers and bears are killed for their bones and gall bladders, respectively, for use in

Asian medicines (Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson, 2001). Carnivores also face competition

with humans for resources such as prey and space. In the past, humans have considered

large carnivores such as wolves and pumas as competitors for game species, and have

consequently removed them to increase game populations. For example, wolves are

controlled through harvesting in interior Alaska to increase ungulate biomass (Boertj e

and Stephenson, 1992).

Space is also an issue, as large carnivores generally have large spatial requirements.

Human population expansion is inevitably eroding the land available to carnivores,

leading to the formation of small, isolated populations with reduced opportunities for

gene flow. The conversion of natural areas to human-dominated landscapes

characterized by agriculture, housing developments, livestock ranching, and other hostile

uses of land further constrain movement and foraging. Carnivores and other wildlife

species are often actively discouraged from using land under cultivation or around human

settlement for fear of losing life, limb, or a source of income. Roads often intersect

carnivore territories, resulting in barriers to dispersal and movement, fragmentation of









habitat and mortality caused by collisions with vehicles (Smith, 1999; Sunquist and

Sunquist, 2001). As humans and their domestic animals move into carnivore territories,

increased levels of depredation can occur, resulting in the loss of carnivores killed for

control purposes. In Nepal and Kenya, snow leopard (Oli, 1994) and lion (Frank, pers.

comm.) populations are threatened due to their depredation on local livestock.

Factors Affecting Cheetah Declines

Cheetahs are as vulnerable to population decline as any other carnivore, perhaps

even more so, because of the low density at which they are normally found. In one area

of Namibia, home ranges varied from 800 km2 for males to 1,500 km2 for females

(Morsbach, 1987). In the Serengeti, lions occur at a density 3-5 times greater than

cheetahs while spotted hyenas live at densities 5-10 times greater (Laurenson et al.,

1992). Interspecific competition has been implicated in the low cheetah densities found

throughout their range. Because of this competition, cheetahs avoid areas where

competitors are found, both temporally and spatially (Durant, 1998 and 2000). Cheetahs

lose their kills to lions, hyenas and other competitors and are also killed directly by them

(Myers, 1975a; Caro, 1994). In the Serengeti, 73% of the cheetahs that die before

adulthood are killed by other carnivores, making predation the largest source of mortality

for cheetahs in this area (Laurenson, 1994). Therefore, it has been suggested that the

cheetahs' best chance for survival will be through conservation in areas outside of

national parks as national parks are often refuges for the other large carnivores (Caro,

1994; Gros, 1998). Rangelands become the next best option as long as ranchers and

other property owners can be convinced of the desirability of allowing these creatures on

their land.









Another factor adding to the cheetahs' vulnerability is their genetics. O'Brien et al.

(1986) report that of the 250 species that had been studied, "the cheetah has the least

amount of genetic variety". The lack of genetic diversity makes the cheetah susceptible

to stochasticity in the environment. While loss of genetic diversity has not been shown to

cause declines in populations on its own (Caro and Laurenson, 1994), it can be a

contributing factor if it keeps a population from adapting to a changing environment

(O'Brien et al., 1985).

The current decline of cheetah populations has been attributed largely to habitat

loss and a decline in prey densities (Caro, 1994; Marker-Kraus and Kraus, 1993; Myers,

1975b). While there have been many studies of cheetahs, few have looked at them

outside national parks. The works of Caro (1994), Durant (1998, 2000), and Kelly,

Laurenson and Fitzgibbon (1998) were done in the Serengeti. Eaton (1974) studied them

in Nairobi National Park. Other studies concentrated on captive populations or

populations under direct persecution by humans. Yet it has been stated that the cheetah's

best hope for survival lies in their conservation outside of protected areas.

Cheetahs in Kenya face the same pressures as cheetahs in other parts of their range.

Gros (1998) concluded that the population of cheetahs in Kenya has remained stable

between 1970 and 1990, but these figures are based on comparisons of densities in two

national parks. She also goes on to say that the maj ority of cheetahs in Kenya live

outside of parks, so the conclusion she reached of a stable population may not be

applicable to the maj ority of the population or the land they inhabit. The land inside

national parks is unlikely to have changed extensively due to its protected status, whereas

land outside of parks will more likely face pressures from a growing human population









for conversion to human uses. The Nakuru area has experienced extensive growth in the

last 17 years due to the growth of the flower industry and human population growth in

general (Wykstra, pers. comm.). Most likely, a variety of factors are contributing to the

decline in the cheetah population of Nakuru, but habitat loss affecting prey densities and

the cheetah directly are probably the most significant contributors. As these issues have

the potential to affect carnivores everywhere, any insight into their impacts would be

beneficial for the development of management schemes addressing habitat loss and its

effects.

Description of Problem

In 2000, members of the Nakuru Wildlife Forum (NWF), a group comprised of

private and public land owners and managers who work together to make landscape level

management decisions for the benefit of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy (NWC),

contacted the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia to express their concern about

cheetahs in the NWC area. They had noticed a decline in the cheetah population and in

wildlife numbers in general since the early 1990s, and were wondering what the cause of

the decline could be. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) set up a satellite program in

the Nakuru area of Kenya with the primary purpose of estimating the current cheetah

population size and the cause of a decline, if it did in fact exist. The Nakuru-Naivasha

area encompassed by the conservancy has experienced phenomenal growth in the human

population with the growth of the commercial flower farm industry along Lake Naivasha.

It has also experienced a large amount of growth in developed areas due to the

infrastructure necessary to support the flower industry and the workers employed there.

The large growth in the human population combined with the growth in developed areas









are most likely having a negative impact on the wildlife found in the Nakuru Wildlife

Conservancy area.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the two leading hypotheses for the cause of

the putative decline of the cheetah population in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy,

Nakuru, Kenya. Factors most likely affecting the Nakuru population include changes in

availability of their preferred prey species, and habitat loss or degradation, though other

possibilities exist. I examined prey density data for the NWC and analyzed land use

changes over the last 17 years as possible correlates of the purported reduction in the

cheetah population. With this information, steps can be taken to stop or reverse the

cheetah population decline, thus conserving them in the Nakuru area.















CHAPTER 2
STUDY DESIGN

Study site

This study was conducted throughout and immediately surrounding the Nakuru

Wildlife Conservancy, a 350,000 acre area managed by the Nakuru Wildlife Forum and

located in the Nakuru District of Kenya, NW of Nairobi (-Oo 27' 54" latitude and 360 12'

4" longitude) (Figure 1). A variety of land uses are found in the NWC, including cattle

ranching, subsistence and commercial agriculture, flower farming for export, government

holdings and three national parks. The third largest city in Kenya, Nakuru, is found just

north of the northern end of the conservancy. Two other important towns in the area are

Gilgil and Naivasha.

The area is mostly semi-arid savanna with grassland and leleshwa (Ta~rchonanthus

camphoratus) and acacia (Acacia sp.) bushland. Forests of yellow fever acacia (Acacia

xanthophloea) are found along the three lakes and rivers. There are two rainy seasons,

the short rains fall in October and November while the long rains fall from March

through June. NWC sustains a diverse wildlife community, though many of the large and

destructive mammals have been killed or driven out of the area, including elephants and

lions. Spotted hyenas are persecuted but they have managed to maintain a small but

steady population.

The local people who make up the NWC suspected a decline in the population of

cheetah and other wildlife in the last 15 years (1985-2000) and approached the Cheetah

Conservation Fund (CCF) to determine the cause. An increase in the human density has






11


occurred in the same time that the wildlife densities had decreased (Wykstra-Ross and

Marker, pers. comm.). A survey conducted by Gros in 1990 (Gros, 1998) supports the

idea that the cheetah population in Nakuru is declining. Currently, very little is known

about the populations of cheetahs, their prey or of competitor species in the Nakuru area.








Suden~~hp l Eth i









I ....11...1.1 |> I1 .


Figure 1. Map of the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya









Image Processing

To analyze and quantify landcover change, three Landsat satellite images from Path

169, Rows 60 and 61 were acquired representing the entire study area. The dates used for

the analysis were 28 January 1986, 06 February 1995 and 04 February 2003. Care was

taken to choose images with anniversary dates as close together as possible to minimize

differences in spectral signatures of vegetation and other landcovers due to seasonal

variation. While these dates did not fall within the time frame of Hield work, they were

chosen due to their ease of acquisition and availability. Landsat images have a pixel size

of 28.5 m x 28.5 m giving them a spatial resolution fine enough to distinguish details in

the landscape that would be seen by cheetahs and their prey. All image processing was

done in Leica Systems Erdas Imagine 8.6 unless otherwise indicated.

Image Acquisition and Pre-Processing

2003: The 2003 image is an Enhanced Thematic Mapper (1G) image (ETM+) from

Landsat 7. The 1G designation indicates that the image has been radiometrically and

geometrically corrected by USGS. The study site crosses two images but the image

acquired from USGS had the two scenes mosaicked together. The image was reprojected

into UTM WGS84 37S, to match the coordinate system of the points collected in the

Hield. No further image pre-processing was done to the 2003 image and the Einal result

was a 6 band image made up of three visible bands, one near infrared band and two mid-

infrared bands. The band widths can be found in Table 1. The thermal and panchromatic

bands were not included because I did not think they would add enough useful

information. The 2003 image was used as the reference scene for geometrically and

radiometrically correcting the 1986 and 1995 images.









Table 1. Bandwidths for Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 5 TM satellite imagery
Band ETM+ TM
1 (blue) 0.45-0.52 0.45-0.52
2 (green) 0.53-0.61 0.52-0.60
3 (red) 0.63-0.69 0.63-0.69
4 (NIR) 0.78-0.90 0.76-0.90
5 (MIR1) 1.55-1.75 1.55-1.75
7 (MIR2) 2.09-2.35 2.08-2.35

1986 and 1995: The 1986 and 1995 images are Thematic Mapper images from

Landsat 5 downloaded from the University of Maryland Global Land Cover Facility. The

two scenes that make up the study site were downloaded separately and mosaicked

together using a feathering process to blend the areas of overlap. The images were

geometrically corrected to the 2003 image using 50 to 60 points with a final RMS value

of less than 0.25 pixel and reproj ected to the same coordinate system as the 2003 scene.

The histograms for all six bands of the 1986 and 1995 images were matched to the 2003

image and radiometric corrections were performed on both images using the method

described in Jensen (1996) as multiple-date empirical radiometric normalization using

regression to reduce differences between them and the 2003 image caused by

atmospheric attenuation. Nineteen radiometric control points were chosen so that they

fell on areas that did not change spectrally over time, generally permanent lakes, patches

of bare soil, rock and roads. Digital numbers were recorded for bands 1-5 and 7 and a

linear regression analysis performed on each. R2 ValUeS were all greater than 0.9. Final

equations and R2 ValUeS are given in Table 2. The resulting equations were applied as the

correction to the image.

Both images were subset to an area slightly greater than the boundaries of the

Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy. I was unable to follow the exact boundaries of the NWC









because I was not able to acquire information that would allow me to Eind them

accurately enough on the image.

Table 2. Regression equations used to radiometrically correct the 1986 image to the 2003
image.
Band Correction equation R2 ValUe
1 y=0.943751x-30.2539 0.9240
2 y=1.529852x-16.0622 0.9298
3 y=1.212533x-11.2657 0.9061
4 y=1.030524x+2.8338 0.9506
5 y=0.582207x+5.1756 0.9685
7 y=0.778132x+6.0936 0.9400

Image Classification

All three scenes were classified separately using a combination of the supervised

and unsupervised classification methods (Jensen, 1996). In principle, each landcover has

a unique spectral reflectance in the bands that make up the image. These differences in

spectral reflectance can be used to classify an image by selecting and grouping together

those pixels with similar signatures. When doing a supervised classification, the user

creates training signatures by defining training sites on the image which delineate known,

homogeneous ground covers. Training sites are selected based on ground truthing data,

shapes associated with specific ground covers and in situ knowledge of the area. Ground

truthing data were collected in the Hield by recording the coordinates of landcover patches

with a minimum size of 100 m x 100 m using a Garmin 76 GPS receiver. Other

information collected included dominant vegetation type, ground cover type, open or

closed canopy, and landuse where applicable. When a coordinate could not be taken

from the center of the patch, distance and direction to the center of the patch were

recorded.









In an unsupervised classification, the computer program divides the pixels into the

specified number of classes based on spectral similarities without reference to outside

sources of information. The steps outlined below describe the classification process for

each of the three images. There were slight differences in the number of steps necessary

for complete image classification between years.

* A normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was created from bands 3 and 4
to show differences in vegetation biomass. This calculation (B4-B3/B4+B3) has
been shown to be useful in distinguishing land cover types with varying amounts of
vegetation (Jenson, 1996).

* A tasseled cap analysis (TCA) was created to bring out land cover differences in
brightness (layer one), greenness (layer two) and wetness (layer three). I discarded
the other layers created by a TCA because they do not yield enough useful
information.

* The NDVI and the first three layers of the TCA were stacked onto the original six-
layer image resulting in a 10-layer image used in all subsequent analyses.

* A principal components analysis (PCA) was performed on the 10-layer image. The
maj or components of the first principal component were band 5, the NDVI and the
brightness layer of the TCA and accounted for over 95% of the variation in the
images. A 3-class ISODATA unsupervised classification was performed on the
PCA, set to 20 iterations and a convergence value of 95%. The resulting classes
included water; areas of heavy, healthy vegetation (forest); and areas of low green
biomass and high soil or senescent vegetation (savanna). The three classes were
used to create masks to break the 10-layer image into two images to be further
classified separately. Forest was left on its own while the water and savanna
classes made up the second section.

* A 15 class ISODATA unsupervised classification was performed on the forest
section following the parameters outlined above. Each of the resulting classes was
inspected and placed into one of three categories: badland, bush or forest, based on
their spectral signatures and knowledge of the area. Each category was recorded to
1, 2 or 3 and used to create masks to further break the forest image into 3 images to
be further classified separately.

* Similar steps were followed for the savanna section of the original image except
that a 20 class unsupervised classification was performed and the resulting classes
placed into one of six categories: water, urban, bush, grass, baresoil and mud.

* At this point, some of the individual pieces were left as they were because they
represented only one landcover type. The remaining pieces were either further










subdivided by the method already outlined, or classified using a supervised
classification scheme. Whether a supervised or unsupervised classification scheme
was applied next depended on how many landcover types were represented in the
piece.

* For the supervised classifications, training sites were taken from ground truthing
data and familiarity with the area. They were created by outlining the edges of the
training area or by using the area of interest (aoi) seed tool set to a spectral
euclidian distance of 10. The aoi seed tool is used to collect neighboring pixels
with similar spectral characteristics to create a training area. When the seed pixel is
chosen, the program inspects each neighboring pixel to see if it is spectrally similar
based on parameters set by the user. If a pixel is similar, the program then inspects
the neighbors next to it. This continues in a stepwise process until all similar,
neighboring pixels are selected or until the maximum number of pixels is reached.

* Once each piece was classified, they were recorded to one of 9 landcover types:
developed, agriculture, bush, badland, open forest, closed forest, baresoil, grassland
and water. Descriptions of types are given below.

* Finally, the pieces were mosaicked together using the maximum overlay function
to produce the final, complete classified image.

A second set of classified images was created by collapsing the nine classes already

created into three based on the ability of cheetahs to exploit them. These classes are as

follows: suitable (grassland), marginal (bush, open forest and baresoil) and unsuitable

(badland, closed forest, developed, agriculture and water). Further descriptions are given

below.

The classified images were further processed to remove isolated pixels that were

most likely misclassified and within a matrix of dissimilar pixels. An accuracy

assessment of the 2003 image showed that this process did not improve overall accuracy

but rather made it worse by about 3%. However, the 1986 and 1995 images had greater

problems with isolated pixels and I believed that while removing them did not improve

the 2003 image, it would improve the other classification. For this reason, I decided to

reassign the class of all clumps less than 3 pixels in size to the value of the maj ority of









surrounding pixels. The 2003 image needed to be processed in the same way to make

comparisons between years possible.

The accuracy of the 2003 image was assessed by randomly selecting 256 points and

determining their actual landcover based on field work and knowledge of the area. This

was then compared to the classified image using the accuracy assessment function in

Erdas Imagine 8.6.

The resulting four classified images were each analyzed separately using

FRAGSTATS 3.3 to examine differences in classes between and within years. The

following indices were used: (1) total area (ha); (2) number of patches; and (3) mean

patch size (ha). Edge metrics were not considered because cheetahs are landscape

species and are not confined to a single habitat type. They readily move between

landcovers and exploit multiple habitat types.

Habitat Types

Representative signature histograms for eight of the nine landcover classes are

shown in Figure 2. Agriculture was not included. Each crop will have a unique signature

so graphing them would be difficult and uninformative. Figure 3 shows pictures of the

different landcovers.

Closed forest: This landcover type is dominated by yellow fever acacia (YFA),

Acacia xanthophloea, in the NWC area. It grows to 25 m in height and is most

commonly found around lakes, rivers and in areas with high ground water and black

cotton soil. YFA generally grows in single species stands. Other tree types that may be

found in this landcover category include blue gum (Eucalyptus globuhus), pine (Pinus

sp.), euphorbia (Euphorbia bussei, E. candelabrum and other sp.), and deciduous mixed

hardwoods, though YFA are by far the most common. The hardwoods are confined to










hills and other areas that have not yet been exploited for agricultural or settlement

purposes. Closed forests have an understory that is difficult to penetrate and which

hinders movement. It is dominated by the shrub Phechea bequaertii, a symbiotic species.

Open forest: Open forests are made up almost exclusively of YFA. It differs from

the closed forest category in that the understory is dominated by grasses, forming an

open, parkland landscape. Like the closed forest category, open forest is usually found

near lakes, rivers and other waterways.



SpectralProfiles of Landcover Classes

250
Grass

200 _Bush
-Badland
o- Baresoil
S150
I Il \ // / I Open Forest
8 Closed Forest
.Z 10 I Developed

50 / I Water



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


Figure 2. Spectral profiles of eight landcover classes

Grassland: Grassland areas are dominated by grass species with some low-lying

herbaceous plants present. Much of this landcover type consists of dead biomass and

patches of bare soil though green grass can be found around Lake Naivasha.

Bushland: Bushland areas are dominated by shrubs, bushes and low-lying trees

interspersed with grasses and patches of bare soil. Bushland and grassland areas are

continuous with varying proportions of bush to grass. The most common type of










bushland found in the conservancy is mixed stands of leleshwa and acacia sp. with

proportions varying in different areas. Other types of bushland include croton, grewia

and rhus.

Agriculture: Agriculture is areas of landscape modified for the purpose of

growing crops, either at the subsistence level or for commercial purposes. Agriculture

areas may also contain some structures such as single-family homes, storage sheds or

buildings used to support the industry.

Developed: Developed areas are landscapes consisting of extensive human

modifications dominated by built structures where the landscape is unrecognizable from

its original form. Examples include urban areas, villages, flower farms (greenhouses),

roads, buildings and other similar structures.

Water: Lakes, rivers and streams.

Badlands: Badlands are areas of thick bush found specifically on old lava flows

and other types of rocky outcrops. There are many species of bushes and herbaceous

species that occur in this landcover type including Aloe sp., Croton sp., Euphorbia sp.,

Acacia sp., Grewia sp., Rhus sp. and others. Grasses in this type of landcover are sparse.

Areas of badland are very difficult to penetrate due to the thickness of the bush and the

spines and thorns associated with them.

Bare soil: Areas of bare soil include mudflats found around the lakes, degraded

lands and cleared patches around urban areas.

The landcover types already described were further refined to give three land-use

types relevant to cheetahs. The landcovers were placed in one of three categories:

suitable, marginal or unsuitable.









Suitable: This category includes those areas where cheetahs are most likely to set

up residence for an extended period of time. Cheetahs are creatures of the open plain.

They are more particular about the areas they choose to live than other large African

felids and require habitats that meet their unique needs. Two features high on the list of

priorities are open space to see their prey and the room to run to attain the high speeds

necessary for capturing prey. Grassland is the only classification that meets these two

requirements. They are also the areas where game is most abundant. Grassland is the

only landcover type that would be considered suitable for cheetahs.

Marginal: Marginal areas are those where cheetahs are known to be found but

they support a lower density of preferred prey species, making them unable to support as

large a cheetah population as found in grassland areas. Marginal areas can also be used

by cheetahs as movement corridors. Land cover types that make up this category include

bushland, badland, bare soil and open forest.

Unsuitable: These landcover types would be avoided by cheetahs and include

developed, closed forest and agricultural areas. Cheetahs are shy creatures and avoid

areas with high human presence as found in agricultural and developed areas. Closed

forests and badlands would also be avoided as they would be too thick for a cheetah to

easily pass through.

Prey Density Estimates

Data Collection

Information on the density of prey within different habitat types was collected

using line transects. It was necessary to determine the density of potential prey species in

the NWC to see if a decline in prey availability could account for the loss of cheetahs and

to determine suitability of different land cover classes for supporting cheetahs. For this




















__ r A




























Figure 3. Representative images of seven landcover classes. A) Grassland. B) Bushland.
C) Open forest. D) Closed forest. E) Bare soil and water. F) Developed. All
pictures taken by M. Evans





























































Figure 3. Continued










analysis, I began by conducting a series of transects using the protocols as described by

Buckland et al. (2001) for use in the program DISTANCE 4. 1 (Thomas et al., 2003), a

computer program that analyzes transect data to determine animal densities. For

DISTANCE to give accurate results, three fundamental assumptions must be met when

designing and conducting the survey: (1) "Objects on the .. line are always detected";

(2) "Obj ects are detected at their initial location, prior to any movement in response to

the observer"; (3) "Distances (and angles where relevant) are measured accurately .. or

obj ects are correctly counted in the proper distance interval" (Buckland et al., 2001; pg

18).

I began by randomly choosing one thousand sets of geographic coordinates within

and immediately surrounding the study area using the program ArcView 3.2 to meet

another assumption of DISTANCE, that transects are laid out randomly. The points

served the dual purpose of use as testing sites for the satellite image classification. I

chose the large number because I knew not all points would be accessible or usable. I

also did not have exact coordinates for the study site and knew some of the points would

fall outside of the NWC. One thousand compass points were then randomly chosen by

the program Microsoft Excel and paired with the geographic coordinates. Three habitat

types were censused with transects including grass, bush and open yellow fever acacia

forests. These habitat types were most likely to be used by cheetahs based on their

vegetative structure and potential prey populations. Other habitat types available in the

area were either too developed or too thick to be included in the census. I decided that

the likelihood of a cheetah using a developed or agricultural area regularly was low

enough that I could safely classify those areas as unsuitable without doing prey transects










in them. It was also very clear that developed areas had high human densities and

generally low wildlife densities. Natural areas that were not censused included badlands

and forests with thick undergrowth where it would be impossible to ensure that

assumptions one and two were not violated, and where safety from buffalo was a

concern. These are also areas cheetahs are not known to inhabitat.

Transects were conducted in suitably large patches of individual habitat that could

possibly be used by cheetahs, with the starting point determined by the random point

closest to an edge of the habitat. Walking direction was determined by the compass

direction associated with the starting point. On at least one occasion, the perpendicular

direction was used due to ease of walking. At least two observers were used at all times.

When an animal of interest was sighted, information on species, number (cluster size),

sex, age, UTM position of observer, distance from observer transectt line), and angle

from north was recorded. Distance and angle were recorded to where the animals were

first sited. Angles from north were later converted to angle from the line. Transects were

walked at a speed of 1-2 km per hour from one end of the habitat type to the other, at

which point a parallel line was walked in the opposite direction, offset from the first by

200-500 meters, depending on line of sight distance.

This process was repeated until the entire habitat area was covered, or until it

became too dark to continue. Care was taken to avoid double counting animals on

different transect legs. It was noted whether or not groups moved in the direction of the

next transect leg. If so, then any group with a similar size and composition found on the

next leg was not counted. This was rarely an issue.









Thirteen transects were walked for a total of 19.4 km in grassland habitats and 35.9

km in bush/ open forest habitats. Transects were walked in the early morning hours

starting at about 6:30 hour or in the afternoon starting at about 16:30 hour. These are the

times when wildlife is most active and therefore most likely to be seen. It is also when

cheetahs most actively hunt. Transect data were analyzed using the program

DISTANCE.

The species censused were those found in the area and known to be preyed upon by

cheetahs. They included zebra (Equus burchelli), eland (Tragelaphus oryx), waterbuck

(Kobus ellipsiprynanus), kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus), thompson's gazelle (Galzella

thonasoni), grant's gazelle (Galzella granti), impalas (Aepyceros nzel~anus), warthogs

(Phacochoerus aethiopicus), hares (Lepus capensis), guinea fowl (Nuntida nzeleagris),

steenbok (Raphicerus canspestris) and dik dik (Madoqua kirkii) (Graham, 1966;

McLaughlin, 1970; Eaton, 1974; Burney, 1980, Frame, 1986; Caro, 1994). Thompson's

gazelle, grant's gazelle and impalas are considered primary prey species for this study as

they represent between 62% and 75% of cheetahs' diet in studies conducted in Kenya

(McLaughlin, 1970; Eaton, 1974; Burney, 1980).

DISTANCE Analyses

Data required for DISTANCE to do the analyses include transect number, cluster

size, radial angle from line (this was calculated based on angle of the line from north),

distance from line and total length of transect. Total length of transect was calculated by

adding up the lengths of the individual legs of each transect. All analyses were based on

cluster size as most of the species recorded occurred in groups rather than as individuals.

Counts in open YFA and bush were pooled together as there were not enough sightings in

either habitat type to give good results. Also, the habitats had similar characteristics.









The sightings were divided into different groups based on body size and habitat. Groups

analyzed included: large herbivores (>40 kg) in grass, large herbivores in bush,

thompson' s gazelle in grass and bush, impala and grant's gazelle in grass and bush, small

herbivores (<12 kg) in grass and bush and preferred prey in grass and bush. Large

herbivores included zebra, eland, waterbuck and hartebeest. Small herbivores included

hares, dik dik, steinbok and guinea fowl. Warthogs were censused but not included in the

analyses as they did not fit easily into any of the categories and there were not enough of

them to analyze separately. DISTANCE assumes that the animals being counted have the

same probability of detection if they are being analyzed together. I believe that this

assumption is not violated with the groupings I have made as the species in each group

are "of similar size and provide similar visual cues" (Buckland et al., 2001: pg 302).

For the analyses, a natural log transformation was applied in DISTANCE to the

cluster size for all groupings because of the large variation seen in cluster size between

groups. The transformation reduces the influence of a few large cluster sizes on the

estimation of density. For those analyses done on groupings in the bush, perpendicular

distance from the line, yi, was replaced with g(yi) in the regression. "G(yi) is the

estimated detection function from the fit of the selected model to the distances from the

line or point to detected clusters." (Buckland et al., 2001). This corrects for the problem

of a shoulder in the detection function where "mean cluster size does not increase with

distance until detection distance exceeds the width of the shoulder." (Buckland et al.,

2001). The same correction was not applied to the groupings in grass habitats because

detection did not vary with distance due to the nature of the terrain. Only the small bush










group was truncated 5% at the right tail due to some distant outliers that made modelling

the regression line problematic.

Five models were run for each of the groupings and Akaike's information criterion

(AIC) values compared to choose which model gave the most robust results. In those

instances where AIC values differed by less than two, model choice was also based on

goodness of fit tests provided by DISTANCE. Those models in each of the groups with

the lowest AIC values and the best fit were chosen to report results (Table 3) (Buckland

et al., 2001).

Table 3. DISTANCE models used in analyses
Key function Series expansion
Uniform Cosine
Uniform Simple polynomial
Half-normal Cosine
Half-normal Hermite polynomial
Hazard-rate Cosine
Hazard-rate Simple polynomial

Differences in densities between bush and grassland habitats for each group were

tested using a T-test as described in Buckland et al. (2001). The biomass of preferred

prey species in each habitat type was calculated from the density. The total biomass for

the group was calculated by multiplying the density estimate for the group by the average

body mass of the group. Average body mass was calculated by multiplying the number

of times a species was seen in a habitat by that specie' s average body mass as reported by

Schaller (1972) and Caro (1994), adding up the body masses for all individuals and

dividing the total by the total number of animals from that group.

Potential Cheetah Population Size

The potential number of cheetahs the NWC could support was calculated using two

methods. I used the regression equation of Gros et al. (1996) to predict cheetah biomass










per unit area based on prey biomass (y = 0.002x + 0.21) in the Nakuru area. I also

followed Emmons (1987) by assuming that 70% of a prey individual was edible and that

cheetahs could take 10% of the prey population per year. I divided the resulting available

biomass by a cheetah's average yearly food requirement (calculated from the average

daily requirement of 4 kg/day (Schaller, 1972)) to again determine the potential cheetah

population size for the NWC.

NWF and LNNP Counts

The Nakuru Wildlife Forum has conducted biannual game counts since October of

1996 throughout the conservancy area, with the exception of 2001. Counts on all

properties are conducted on the same day at the same time to reduce the possibility of

double counting animals. The different properties are divided into blocks based on

configuration of roads, vegetation and area to be covered. Teams of counters consisting

of at least one driver, one spotter and one recorder drive through each block and get total

counts of all mammal species encountered. Except for some Lake Nakuru National Park

(LNNP) counts, information about sex or age of animal, and vegetation type is not

recorded. The block counts are later compiled into total counts for each property and for

the total conservancy to track changes in game counts over time. Only the fall counts

were used for this study. There was some evidence of biannual fluctuations in animal

numbers so only those counts that coincided with the timing of the density counts were

used. Because the number of properties participating in the counts, and thus the total area

surveyed, varied over time, total counts of wildlife numbers could not be used for

comparison purposes. Instead, yearly average density was calculated by dividing the

total number of animals counted throughout the survey by the total area surveyed. In

order to detect statistically significant changes in density, average density was regressed










against year using Microsoft Excel. Individual species were tested as well as preferred

prey as a group and large prey as a group. Small prey were not tested. Not all of the

species included in the DISTANCE analyses were counted as part of the forum counts.

Also, forum counts are usually conducted from a vehicle rather than on foot, reducing the

likelihood of accurately counting small mammals.















CHAPTER 3
RESULTS

Classification

The Einal classifications for the 1986 and 2003 scenes can be seen in Figures 4

through 7. The 1995 classification was not included because the results of the

classification did not make sense, which I think is related to problems with the

classification itself rather than actual landcover changes. The overall accuracy for the

nine class 2003 classification was 70.3%. Kappa statistics and producers and users

accuracy are summarized in Tables 4 and 5. The errors associated with the classification

occurred between grass and bush, grass and agriculture, closed forest and open forest,

urban and baresoil, and bush and open forest. Forty of 76 misclassified points occurred

between grass and bush. These are continuous habitat types and defining where the

cutoff between grass and bush occurs spectrally was difficult. I'm sure that those areas of

pure bush or pure grass were correctly classified, but areas with sparse bush or thick grass

are the areas most likely to have been classified incorrectly. Six of the misclassifications

occurred between grass and agriculture. A common crop grown in the NWC is wheat,

making grass and agriculture easy to separate when creating training sites based on shape

of agricultural plots, but difficult to separate spectrally. Their signatures were quite

similar and therefore often confused in the final classification. Bare soil in the NWC is

often very lightly colored, and local soils can be used as building materials, making the

spectral signatures for these classes similar. It was impossible to sufficiently separate

developed from baresoil areas despite repeated attempts, especially along lake shores.




































fit" .; CI
;i, i'
i~r~~
,, r Pr
: ~ J
ses
~
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ir r. ~''`

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ir
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;

-"
2-;

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:;::

h

id


Landcover Clas



D developed

SAgriculture

B ush

Badl and

SOpen Forest

Closed Foresi

B aresoil

SGrassland

Water

5 10


0


20 Kilometers


Figure 4. 2003 landcover classification. Enhanced Thematic Mapper image ofNakuru
Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 04 February 2003.





~ti
bl
; i
,
:!~"I ;


'';-C;


Landcover Classes



SDeveloped

Agriculture i


F
i'
I
I .
.Iri
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r .
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Badl and


Open Forest

Closed Forest


I-
.i :. .
.r
::i
4


Bareso~il

G rass lan d


Wate r


O


5 10


20 KIlometers


Figure 5. 1986 landcover classification. Thematic Mapper image ofNakuru Wildlife
Conservancy, Kenya, 28 January 1986.





Suitab~ility Classes


Figure 6. 2003 suitability classification. Enhanced Thematic Mapper image ofNakuru
Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, 04 February 2003.
























































0 5 10 20 Kilometers



Figure 7. 1986 suitability classification. Thematic Mapper image ofNakuru Wildlife
Conservancy, Kenya, 28 January, 1986.


Suitability Classes










The problem with closed forest vs. open forest is similar to grass vs. bush. These

landcover classes occur along a continuum. Also, if open forests have a closed canopy,

they could easily be confused with closed forest. Eleven of the misclassifieations

occurred between bush and open forest. Confusion between these landcover classes is

not surprising considering the similar make up of green trees/ bushes interspersed with

grass.

The overall accuracy for the three-class 2003 classification was 73.8%. The

problems with this classification were similar to those for the nine class classification,

most notably the misclassifieation of bush and grass resulting in the misclassifieation of

the suitable and marginal habitats.

Table 4. Accuracy results for 2003 landcover classification
Overall accuracy: 70.3%
Kappa Statistic: .5824
Class Kappa Producers Error Users Error
1 0.6640 100.00 66.67
2 0.5803 25.00 60.00
3 0.4967 74.51 69.72
4 0.8951 75.00 90.00
5 0.8437 27.27 85.71
6 0.2411 33.33 25.00
7 0.8280 62.50 83.33
8 0.4800 77.63 63.44
9 1.0000 100.00 100.00


Table 5. Accuracy results for 2003 suitability classification
Overall Accuracy: 73.8%
Kappa Statistic: .5766
Class Kappa Producers Error Users Error
1 0.4611 77.63 62.11
2 0.5871 72.73 80.00
3 0.7899 70.83 82.93









Landcover Change

Habitat suitable for cheetah and its prey decreased between 1986 and 2003 from

1 13,970 ha (46.5% of the landscape) to 95,969 ha (39. 1% of the landscape), respectively.

This is a loss of 18,001 ha, or 15.8% of suitable landscape in a 17-year period. During

this same time, marginal lands increased from 94,891 ha (38.7%) to 108,843 ha (44.4%),

an increase of 13,952 ha, or 14.7%. Unsuitable area also increased, from a low of 36,202

ha (14.8%) in 1986 to 40,339 ha (16.5%) in 2003, an increase of 4,137 ha, or 1 1.4%. The

increase in marginal areas was due to a growth of the bush class and a large increase in

the bare soil class that comprised the marginal category. Bush increased by 10,654 ha

(12.9% increase) while bare soil increased by 6,934 ha, an increase of 290%. The

increase in unsuitable areas was due mostly to an increase in developed areas, from 562

ha to 2,517 ha, an increase of 349%. Table 6 summarizes landcover changes between

1986 and 2003.

There were also changes in patch dynamics over the 17-year period. The average

size of grassland and suitable patches, calculated as the sum of the area of all patches of a

particular type divided by the total number of patches of that type, decreased between

1986 and 2003. Grassland patch size decreased from 16.04 ha to 13.8 ha. The number of

patches for this class remained about the same between years (1986: 7,158; 2003: 7,084).

Suitable patches decreased from 15.4 ha to 12.4 ha. The number of patches also

remained about the same for this category (1986: 7,391; 2003: 7,744).

The marginal category saw an increase in the number of patches, from 7,958 to

9,360, but the average size of the patches remained about the same (1986: 1 1.92 ha;

2003: 1 1.62 ha). Within the marginal category, the number of patches of bush decreased

(9,3 54 to 7,865) but the average size of those patches increased (8.85 ha to 1 1.88 ha),



























I


Table 7. Class metrics for the 1986 and 2003 classifications
1986 2003 1986 2003
Number of Number of Average patch Average patch
Landcover class patches patches size (ha) size (ha)
Suitable 7391 7744 15.42 12.39
Grassland 7158 7084 16.04 13.80
Marginal 7958 9360 11.92 11.63
Bush 9354 7865 8.85 11.88
Baresoil 939 3736 2.55 2.50
Open forest 2954 4963 3.03 1.09
Unsuitable 6758 10440 5.36 3.86
Developed 934 1380 0.60 1.82
Agriculture 3188 4066 1.37 0.97
Badland 2551 4892 3.16 1.88
Closed forest 1107 2582 3.22 2.00
Water 35 101 558.60 181.94


possibly indicating the consolidation and growth of patches originally found in 1986.

Baresoil patches stayed about the same size (1986: 2.55 ha; 2003: 2.50 ha) but there was

a dramatic increase in the number of them, from 939 to 3,736.

For the unsuitable category, average patch size decreased from 5.36 ha to 3.86 ha,

but the number of patches increased from 6,758 to 10,440. Urban areas increased in

patch numbers (1986: 934; 2003: 1,380) and in average patch size (1986: 0.60 ha; 2003:

1.82 ha) (Table 7).


Table 6. Landcover change in the Nakuru
Landcover class 1986 (ha)
Suitable 113975
Grassland 114824
Marginal 94909
Bush 82822
Baresoil 2388
Open forest 8954
Unsuitable 35777
Developed 561
Agriculture 4351
Badland 7876
Closed forest 3569
Water 19316


Wildlife Conservancy, (NWC),
2003 (ha) Change (ha)
95969 -18006
97767 -17057
108843 13934
93461 10640
9324 6935
5416 -3538
40339 4562
2517 1956
3930 -421
9196 1321
5165 1596
18376 -941


1986 to 2003
% Change
-15.80
-14.85
14.68
12.85
290.39
-39.52
12.75
348.75
-9.68
16.77
44.72
-4.87










Prey Densities

The density of preferred prey species in grassland habitats was estimated to be

0.628 animals per hectare (95% CI = [0.422, 0.934], CV = 18.7%). In bushland habitat

the density estimate was 0.147 animals per hectare (95% CI = [0.048, 0.454], CV =

57.3%). The preferred prey density estimates are significantly higher in the grassland

habitat than in the bushland areas (T = 3.328, P<0.003). Prey densities for individual

species that make up the preferred prey group are also significantly different between the

two habitat types. Thompson's gazelles are found at a density of 0.442 individual per

hectare (95% CI = [0.273, 0.715], CV = 22.0%) in grass and 0.068 individuals per

hectare in bush (95% CI = [0.022, .207], CV = 57.4%) (T = 3.532, P =0 .003). Impala

and grant's gazelle were analyzed together. Their density in grass was 0.190 individuals

per hectare (95% CI = [0.096, 0.374], CV = 33.9%) and 0.042 individuals per hectare in

bush (95% CI = [0.010, 0.174], CV = 73.0%) (T = 2.080. P<0.05). The large prey and

small prey groups did not have statistically significant differences in densities between

grass and bush. A summary of density estimates for all groups can be found in Table 8.

Table 8. Density estimates for prey species in grassland and bushland habitats.
Habitat
Grass Bush
Density CV Density CV
Species/ Group (ind./ha) CI (%) (ind./ha) CI (%)
Preferred prey* 0.628 0.422, 0.934 18.7 0.147 0.048, 0.454 57.3
Thompson's gazelle* 0.442 0.273, 0.715 22.0 0.068 0.022, 0.207 57.4
Grant's gazelle and 0.190 0.096, 0.374 33.9 0.042 0.010, 0.174 73.0
impala*
Large prey 0.138 0.070, 0.271 34.4 0.097 0.045, 0.207 36.5
Small prey 0.147 0.035, 0.613 68.3 0.342 0. 180, 0.649 31.1
* indicates statistically significant differences between grassland and bushland densities.

The large coefficient of variation seen in some of the density estimates is due to a

low number of sightings of individuals in those groups. It is also due to the patchy









distribution of individuals in the habitats. Some species were counted on some transects

but not on others. For example, thompson's gazelles were counted on all transects for the

grassland areas but were missing from three transects conducted in bush. This pattern

was also found for large prey. Grant' s gazelle and impala were missing from five bush

transects but were counted on all grass transects. DISTANCE gives unbiased results

even with low sighting numbers so the results are valid. Though significant differences

were not found in the group densities of large prey and small prey between habitat types,

this could be due to the large CV. More transects may have reduced the coefficient of

variation and pulled out differences in these groups, especially the small prey groups.

However, the small prey that make up the group have an average body mass of less than

4 kg. Even if there were significant differences in densities, it is unlikely that the

differences in biomass between habitats, when combined with the other groups, would be

enough to significantly impact a cheetah's decision to exploit grassland versus bushland

areas.

The biomass of preferred prey in suitable areas is 1505 kg/km2 (95% CI = [101 1,

2238]). The biomass of preferred prey in marginal areas is 384 kg/km2 (95% CI = [125,

1186]). Using Gros et al. (1996), in 1986, the NWC could support a potential cheetah

population of 73 (51-107) individuals in suitable areas and 19 (9-49) in marginal areas for

a total of 92 (60-156) cheetahs. In 2003, suitable areas could support 62 (43-90)

individuals while marginal areas could support 21 (10-56) individuals for a total

population of 83 (53-146) cheetahs.

Using the method espoused by Emmons (1987), suitable areas could support 85

(57-127) cheetahs while marginal could support 18 (6-56) in 1986 for a population total









of 103 (63-183). In 2003, the potential cheetah population size in suitable areas was 72

(48-107) individuals and 21 (7-64) in marginal areas for a total of 93 (55-171) cheetahs

(Table 9).

Table 9. Potential cheetah population estimates as predicted by prey biomass.
Method Year Habitat
Suitable (range) Marginal (range) Total (range)
Gros et al. 1986 73 (51-107) 19 (9-49) 92 (60-156)
(1996) 2003 62 (43-90) 21 (10-56) 83 (53-146)

Emmons 1986 85 (57-127) 18 (6-56) 103 (63-183)
(1987) 2003 72 (48-107) 21 (7-64) 93 (55-171)

Prey Density Changes Over Time

In no instances did population densities increase between 1996 and 2003. Rather,

all populations exhibited a decrease of some degree, though regression analyses of

changes in prey density indicate a significant decline in only two instances. There has

been a significant decline in the density of preferred prey since 1996 from a density of

0.2097 animals per hectare to 0.1207 per hectare (R2 = 0.661, slope = -0.0171, SE =

0.0061). This is due mostly to a decline in thompson' s gazelle from 0. 1186 animals per

hectare to 0.0678 per hectare (R2 = 0.749, slope = -0.0088, SE = 0.0025). Trends for

other species were not significant at the 0.05 level. Three trends: large prey, impala and

kongoni, were significant at the 0.1 level (large prey: R2 = 0.623, slope = -0.0185, SE =

0.0072; impala: R2 = 0.592, slope = -0.0051, SE = 0.0021; kongoni: R2 = 0.638, slope =

-0.0052, SE = 0.0020). A summary of the results for all analyses are given in Table 10.

It should be noted that grant's gazelle are often mistaken for thompson' s gazelle, so the

absolute numbers reported in the census may over-represent thompson' s gazelle and

under-represent grant' s gazelle. However, thompson's gazelle are more common, and I

doubt that misidentification occurs often enough to significantly change the results. As










more counts are conducted in the NWC area, incidences of significant declines in species

may increase. Also, the results from the forum counts should be viewed with some

caution. They are designed to count all animals within the census area, but the accuracy

of the method is not known, nor is the detection probability for the different species being

censused. There is no way of knowing what proportion of individuals of each species is

missed in the counts. Also, the participants and their level of experience vary from year

to year, and there is no way to evaluate inter-observer differences either within or

between years. However, the same methods are applied for every count, therefore the

results should be comparable and trends over time should be indicative of overall

changes.












Table 10. NWC wide prey density estimates and regression analyses of density changes.
Density estimates
(ind./ha) R2 Slope SE
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Preferred prey** 0.2097 0.2261 0.1398 0.1272 0.1398 0.1207 0.6610 -0.0171 0.0061
Thompson's gazelle** 0.1186 0. 1224 0.0819 0.0830 0.0867 0.0678 0.7492 -0.0088 0.0025
Impala* 0.0715 0.0655 0.0479 0.0353 0.0427 0.0434 0.5918 -0.0051 0.0021
Grant's gazelle 0.0197 0.0382 0.0100 0.0089 0.0104 0.0095 0.3554 -0.0032 0.0021
Large prey* 0.1785 0.1983 0.1054 0.0799 0. 1004 0.0854 0.6227 -0.0185 0.0072
Zebra* 0.1189 0.1223 0.0697 0.0598 0.0714 0.0613 0.6348 -0.0106 0.0040
Eland 0.0187 0.0296 0.0158 0.0073 0.0132 0.0109 0.4060 -0.0023 0.0014
Kongoni* 0.0313 0.0388 0.0129 0.0057 0.0094 0.0061 0.6376 -0.0052 0.0020
Waterbuck 0.0096 0.0076 0.0070 0.0071 0.0064 0.0071 0.5118 -0.0004 0.0002

**indicates declines which are statistically significant at the 0.05 level. *indicates declines which are statistically significant at the
0.10 level.















CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION

Cheetah Population Trends

In 1975, Myers (1975b) estimated the population of cheetahs to be about 15,000

animals throughout their range, possibly half the population size from the 1960's. The

Kenya population at that time was estimated to be less than 2,000 animals and under

pressure from loss of habitat due to exploitation of rangelands for agriculture and

livestock ranching. Gros (1998) estimated, based on available habitat and prey densities,

the potential Kenya cheetah population at 10,000, but the actual number was probably

closer to 1,000 to 2,000 animals. According to Gros (1998), the Kenya population

overall has most likely remained fairly stable. However, in the Nakuru area, the cheetah

population appears to have declined. In 1990, Gros (1998) estimated the population to be

around 3 5 animals based on interviews, with the maj ority of the respondents reporting a

decrease. Using the same interview technique in 2002, the Cheetah Conservation Fund

reported the Nakuru cheetah population to be about 12 animals (Wykstra, pers. comm.).

The interview technique has been shown to be the most reliable indirect method for

estimating densities of large carnivores (Gros et al., 1996).

Using the averaging technique (Gros et al., 1996), Gros estimated the cheetah

population within Lake Nakuru National Park to be about three animals. In 1996, KWS

counted two cheetahs within the park during one of their triannual censuses. One cheetah

was counted in 1997. Since then, no confirmed cheetah sightings have been reported and

the LNNP cheetah population is believed to be lost. It should be noted that cheetahs do










not persist in areas with high densities of other carnivores, especially lions. Lions kill

cheetahs and their cubs and are responsible for 73% of the mortality of cheetah cubs in

the Serengeti (Laurenson, 1994). Lions were translocated into LNNP during the 1990's

and their population flourished. Twenty-seven lions were seen during one of the 2000

game counts. Game numbers remain high within the park so the loss of cheetahs is most

likely attributed to the lion population rather than a loss of prey species. But the LNNP

cheetah population could recover. In 2002, two rangers were killed by lions within the

park and as a result the lions were killed, only lionesses with cubs were allowed to

remain per Kenya law. It is thought that the remaining females will also be killed once

the cubs are grown. With the loss of the lions from the park, cheetah recovery in that

area is possible. While no confirmed sightings of cheetah within the park have been

reported since 1997, one questionable cheetah sighting was made in the fall of 2002.

There is some controversy about whether it was actually a cheetah or a leopard.

There is also some indication that the distribution of cheetahs within the Nakuru-

Naivasha area has changed between 1990 and 2002. Gros (1998) reported 20 cheetahs in

the properties north of Lake Naivasha, and 15 individuals in the properties south of it.

While the CCF report does not give separate abundance estimates for the two areas, it is

clear from the list of sightings that the maj ority, especially frequent or regular sightings,

occurred in the area south of Lake Naivasha. Table 11 summarizes sighting information.

Suswa, Hell's Gate National Park, Kongoni Game Sanctuary and Kedong all report

regular sightings of cheetah on a weekly or monthly basis. Suswa reports regular

sightings of mothers with cubs, most likely more than one family group are present on the










property. In contrast, sightings on properties north of Lake Naivasha generally consist of

only one or two individuals seen only once or twice.

Table 11. Cheetah sightings in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy: 2000-2002
Group size and Seen
Area of NWC Property composition regularly?
North of Lake Kekopey Group Ranch One individual No
Naivasha Kigio One individual No
Kigio Two individuals No
Marula Two individuals No*
Mwariki One individual No*
Soysambu Two individuals No
Soysambu One individual No
South of Lake Suswa Mother with 6 cubs Yes
Naivasha Suswa Family groups of 3-4 cubs Yes
Suswa Indivi dual s Yes
Suswa Family groups up to 5 cubs Yes
Kongoni Game Valley One individual No
Hell's Gate NP 2-4 individuals Yes
Hell's Gate NP One individual Yes
Kedong One individual Yes
Kedong Mother with 2 cubs Yes
Kongoni Game Sanctuary One individual No
Kongoni Game Sanctuary Two individuals Yes
* seen twice

Landcover Change

Though not quantified, landcover change in the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy

shows some important trajectories. Grassland in many areas of the conservancy has been

replaced by the less productive (in terms of ungulate densities) bushland and baresoil

categories. The growth of baresoil is especially apparent along the southern portions of

Lake Elementaita, to the east of Lake Nakuru National Park, to the southeast of

Elementaita town and the very southern portion of the study site. While overgrazing and

poor land management practices have been implicated in the degradation of grassland

areas (Milton and Dean, 1995; Kellner and Bosch, 1992), stocking rates of livestock for










individual properties in this livestock area were not recorded. However, they are likely

candidates for the increase of baresoil.

The growth of bush and other woody species in grasslands, termed bush

encroachment (Moleele and Perkins, 1998), is a problem faced by land managers

worldwide. In Botswana (Moleele et al., 2002), bush encroachment has been implicated

in the loss of high quality rangeland while its growth in savanna areas of South Africa

(Roques et al., 2001) has been widely observed. In the Nakuru area, this phenomenon is

most apparent in the areas north of Lake Naivasha and between Lakes Nakuru and

Elementaita. Livestock ranching has been shown to increase the rate of bush

encroachment (Brown and Archer, 1989; Hudak, 1999). The spread of bush in

grasslands occurs most readily where cattle grazing occurs. The Madikwe Game Reserve

in South Africa experienced a 30% relative increase in bush during a 40-year period due

in part to long-term cattle grazing in the area (Hudak and Wessman, 1996). A study of

shrub encroachment in Swaziland showed that grazing pressure was a key determinant in

the spread of woody species in a lowveld savanna (Roques et al., 2001). Bush

encroachment has been shown to radiate out from focal points such as a paddock or water

trough, a trend found on a cattle ranch in Tanzania (Tobler et al., 2003). Bushland cover

decreased from areas of high cattle intensity to the more extensively used game reserve.

Moleele and Perkins (1998) examined fifteen environment variables to explain bush

encroachment in Botswana and found that high cattle density was responsible for bush

encroachment around boreholes and cattle troughs. Bush encroachment in the Nakuru

area is most likely to be caused by cattle due to the importance of this land use in the

area.









Another important land-use change for the area is the growth of developed areas.

Nakuru town has grown extensively along with Naivasha town. But most obvious is the

increase in developed areas along the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. The commercial

flower industry has grown enormously since 1986; almost no trace of it can be found in

the 1986 image. The developed areas seen in the 2003 images are greenhouses and

housing for the thousands of workers who support the industry.

Direct Consequences of Landcover Change

It is unlikely that the loss of grassland habitat or the increase in bush have had any

direct negative effects on the Nakuru cheetah population. While cheetahs prefer open

grasslands, they are able to use a wide variety of habitat types, from open grassland to

heavy bush. In fact both are necessary to provide food and cover from predators and the

heat of the day (Caro and Collins, 1987; Schaller, 1972). In Karamoja region of Uganda,

cheetahs prefer open habitats with less than 50% woody cover and grasses of medium

length (Gros and Rejmanek, 1999). In Nairobi National Park in Kenya and Serengeti

National Park in Tanzania, cheetahs use the grassland areas but are also found in the

woodlands (Eaton, 1974, Caro, 1994; Schaller, 1972). Myers (1975b) and Hamilton

(1986) report that cheetahs are frequently found in bushlands, often because other, more

suitable habitats are not available. It is also unlikely that changes in the configuration of

marginal and suitable habitats have had a negative effect. In areas where the appropriate

habitat makes up more than 20-30% of the total landscape, patch configuration and

arrangement are of less importance than habitat amount (Andren, 1994; Fahrig, 1997).

This is truer for generalist species and landscape species able to move through less

appropriate habitat types to reach suitable patches than for habitat specialists or species

sensitive to spatial-temporal pattern of patches (Sunquist and Sunquist, 2001). In 2003









suitable habitat comprised 3 9% of the landscape while marginal comprised over 44%,

both above the threshold level of 30%. Fragmentation is unlikely to play a role in

determining the Nakuru cheetah population size until the availability of appropriate

habitat, both suitable and marginal combined, falls below that 30% threshold level.

Of greater importance is the increase in the amount of unsuitable habitat, especially

developed areas. Cheetahs are shy (Schaller, 1972; Hamilton, 1986) with low

competitive ability against competitors (Durant, 2000; Durant, 1998). They are less

tolerant of human presence than other carnivores and are therefore more likely to avoid

areas of high human density. The human population in the Nakuru District has increased

by more than 300% between 1969 and 1999. Average density was 137 people/ km2 in

1999, up from 41/ km2 in 1969 and 1 18/ km2 in 1989, with pockets of greater densities

centered around the towns and areas of small scale agriculture. Evidence for the increase

can be seen along the southern edge of Lake Naivasha where the area of development has

increased from almost nothing to running the length of the shore. The area covered by

the three principal towns has also increased dramatically. The influence of developed

areas on cheetahs and wildlife in general extends well beyond the mere conversion of

suitable habitat to unsuitable. The increase in the human population associated with

increased development results in a regular or constant human presence in areas adj acent

to developed areas. Dogs, lights, noise and traffic all reduce the probability that a

cheetah will exploit areas deemed suitable based on landcover classification alone. As

the human population increases, cheetahs are more likely to be disturbed with consequent

negative effects. Amur tigers have been shown to be more likely to abandon kills and

consume less meat after disturbance by humans (Kerley et al., 2002). Bobcats in









southern California showed little tolerance of urban activities based on the percentage of

their home range composed of developed areas (Riley et al., 2003).

Woodroffe (2001) has calculated the critical human density for which there is a

50% chance of a carnivore population going extinct. Based on Hamilton's (1986)

cheetah survey, Woodroffe has estimated the critical human density for cheetahs in

Kenya to be 16.5 people/ km2, far below the current density in Nakuru. In India,

however, the cheetah population did not go extinct until mean human density reached 120

people/ km2 (in 1901) (Woodroffe, 2001). Clearly there is variation in the ability of

cheetahs to adapt to increasing human densities. The variation is most likely due at least

in part to the amount of persecution and harassment that the cheetahs must contend with,

indicating that cheetahs are not as persecuted in the Nakuru area as they are in other parts

of their Kenyan range. Yet some intolerance exists as cheetahs also come into direct

conflict with humans over resource use. While the members of the NWF are tolerant of

cheetahs on their properties and even encourage their presence, other landowners in the

area are not as favorably disposed. Cheetahs are large carnivores known to kill sheep and

goats (Frank, pers. comm.; Wykstra, pers. comm.; Marker et al., 2003). Many smaller

landowners are unable and unwilling to absorb the cost of livestock losses, and will

harass or even kill carnivores to protect their stock (Frank, 1998; Marker et al., 2003).

Poaching for skins is also an issue in the Nakuru area. Two cheetah skins along with

eight leopard skins were confiscated from a poacher in the fall of 2002 by Kenya Wildlife

Services.

Indirect Consequences of Landcover Change

While the conversion of grassland to bushland habitats is of minor importance to

cheetahs directly, it potentially has a much greater indirect effect through food









availability and their preferred prey. Thompson' s gazelles, grant' s gazelles and impala

are found at much greater densities in grassland habitats than in bushland areas. The loss

of grass will necessarily result in a reduction of the prey available to cheetahs. This trend

is evident in the significant decline of thompson' s gazelles since 1995, and in the decline

of impalas. Gros et al. (1996) and Laurenson (1995a) have demonstrated that there is a

"strong correlation" between the biomass of cheetahs and the biomass of their preferred

size class of prey, indicating the importance of prey availability to cheetah success.

The amount of prey biomass available to carnivores has been shown to be an

important determinant of the number of carnivores a given area can support (Fuller and

Sievert, 2001). A positive correlation between prey biomass and carnivore biomass or

density has been found for many carnivore species including cheetahs (Laurenson, 1995a;

Gros et al., 1996), leopards (Stander et al., 1997), lions (Van Orsdol et al., 1985), tigers

(Karanth et al., 2004) and Ethiopian wolves (Sillero-Zubiri and Gotelli, 1995). The

effects of prey depletion can be manifested in a carnivore population in a number of

different ways. With a decrease in prey resources, some carnivores expand their home

range size in response to the reduced carrying capacity. The Triangle region of the Masai

Mara, where prey biomass is comparatively low, supports a lower density of lions with

larger home ranges than the Sekenani or Musiara regions of the Mara (Ogutu and Dublin,

2002). Ethiopian wolves in areas with low prey densities have larger home ranges and

smaller group sizes than wolves in areas with more prey (Sillero-Zubiri and Gotelli,

1995). When prey depletion is modelled in a tiger population, carrying capacity is

reduced, the population size decreases and extinction risk for the population increases

(Karanth and Stith, 1999). Other effects of prey depletion include suppressed breeding or









increased mortality of cubs (hyenas: Holekamp et al., 1999; lions: Hanby et al., 1995; San

Joaquin kit foxes: White and Ralls, 1993; wolves: Boertje and Stephenson, 1992; and

cheetahs: Caro, 1994) and increased mortality of adults (lynx: Poole, 1994).

In cheetahs, it has been suggested that they expand their home ranges in response to

declining prey availability (Caro, 1994). They have also been shown to expand home

range size when prey density is high but patchily distributed with areas of low density in

between (Caro, 1994). The decrease in density of prey species since 1996 combined with

the patchiness of suitable habitat in the study site would result in the reduced carrying

capacity of the NWC for cheetahs. When prey densities decline, cheetahs must travel

further to locate and acquire sufficient food. Increased energy expenditure to obtain food

may have negative consequences on cheetah reproductive rates. Cheetahs generally have

large litters with short inter-birth intervals compared to other large felids. The energy

requirements to successfully raise a large litter to independence are enormous. When

maternal food intake falls below a threshold level of 1.5kg/day, cub growth has been

shown to decline sharply (Laurenson, 1995b). In the Serengeti, 95% of cheetahs die

before reaching adulthood, with the maj ority of mortality due to predation by other large

carnivores. Only 7% of cub mortality can be attributed to starvation or abandonment

(Laurenson, 1994). However, in the Nakuru area, the large carnivores have been either

extirpated or their population size suppressed through human intervention. Therefore,

cub mortality from depredation has been virtually eliminated, putting greater pressure on

cheetah mothers to acquire enough food to raise their large and still intact litters. In this

situation, it is probable that prey density would be a more important determinant in










survival and reproductive rates of cheetahs than has been previously seen in other

sy stem s.

The calculations used to estimate potential cheetah population size based on prey

biomass assume that all grassland and bushland patches are equal in their ability to

support cheetahs and their prey species. Also, these calculations take into account only

preferred prey species, meaning the number the area could support based on total prey

biomass may actually be higher. However, the assumption of equal patch quality is not

realistic. Not all areas classified as grassland or bushland may be appropriate habitat due

to proximity to human habitation or other disturbances. Prey numbers in areas adjacent

to high human densities or with poor security may be depressed due to poaching of prey

species by people (O'Brien et al., 2003). Snares for ungulates are often found along

fence lines and in other areas of high ungulate traffic.

Considering that in 2003 the Nakuru area could have potentially supported a

population of more than 60 cheetahs based on available prey biomass, but the actual size

of the population was estimated at 12 (Wykstra, unpublished report) suggests that prey

depletion is unlikely to be the primary cause of the current decline in the cheetah

population. However, prey densities could become a bigger factor if conversion of

grassland to bushland and degradation of grasslands continues.

Conclusion

The results of this study indicate that recent (1986-2003) changes in landcover and

prey availability within the Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy are insufficient to explain the

marked decline of cheetahs in the area. While grasslands within the conservancy are

converting to less appropriate landcovers due to bush encroachment and degradation,

there is still sufficient habitat and prey available to support a healthy cheetah population.









However, an increase in human density within the conservancy probably plays a

significant role in discouraging cheetahs from using the area to a greater degree (Janis

and Clark, 2002); this problem will worsen rather than improve with time as the area

continues to grow. Support for this possibility is given by the paucity of cheetahs found

in the northern part of the conservancy. Cheetahs may find it difficult to pass through the

densely settled area around Lake Naivasha. Other issues cheetahs face include more

intensive land conversion and subdivision of larger properties surrounding the

conservancy rather than change within the conservancy itself. Subdivided land used for

subsistence farming will convert land from suitable or marginal to unsuitable and present

a barrier to cheetah movement into the area. This landcover change was identified as a

threat to cheetahs in the Nakuru area, especially to the north and west, by Gros (1998)

during her survey in 1990. Fritz et al. (2003) found that wildlife in the Zambezi Valley

of Zimbabwe were less likely to use sections of the river bordered by agriculture. The

negative effect of agriculture on density and diversity of wildlife using the area was

greatly enhanced once a threshold level was reached (Fritz et al., 2003). It is likely that

the growth of agriculture and subsistence farming in the areas surrounding the NWC has

had a similar effect.

Members of the Nakuru Wildlife Forum who wish to see a return of cheetahs to

their property will have to manage their game populations to maintain a high density of

the cheetahs' preferred prey species. They will also need to ensure that poaching of prey

species and of cheetahs is deterred and that cheetahs are not harassed if they colonize

their property. More importantly though, forum members will need to establish and

maintain connectivity between the source population of cheetahs to the south of the






54


Nakuru area, particularly the Masai Mara, and the rest of the conservancy. The Nakuru

area has never maintained a high cheetah population. More likely the area was used as a

corridor to pass from the southern part of the country to the central highlands and the

Laikipia Plateau. But the growth of settled and densely populated areas may have

reduced or even closed that corridor.
















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Meredith Evans received her B.A. in biology with a minor in chemistry from

California State University, Chico in December 1994. She then worked as a math and

biology teacher for 2 years in a secondary school in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer.

After returning home in 1997, she worked as an assistant on a variety of different

research proj ects including a study of salmon and steelhead in northern Califomnia, small

mammal diversity and abundance in Tanzania and primate demography and anti-predator

behavior in Kenya. In 1999, she j oined the Laikipia Predator Proj ect and worked as an

assistant looking at human-camnivore conflicts in the Laikipia District of Kenya. She

began her M.S. degree in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the

University of Florida in 2001. For her research, she investigated the decline of cheetahs

in the Nakuru District of Kenya. She will begin the Ph.D. program upon completion of

her thesis.