Saharan Cheetah filmed at Ahaggar, southern Algeria

Saharan Cheetah filmed by remote cameras at the Ahaggar Cultural Park in the Algerian Sahara.

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

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

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

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

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

Saharan cheetah / Guépard saharien (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), Ahaggar Cultural Park, Algeria, March 2020 (ONPCA)
Saharan cheetah / Guépard saharien (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), Ahaggar Cultural Park, Algeria, March 2020 (ONPCA). Original photo.

Critically endangered and living in a low density

The Saharan Cheetah or Northwest African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki) is a critically endangered Cheetah subspecies with a patchy distribution in Central Sahara and the Sahel. Because of the harsh Saharan environment, the Saharan Cheetah lives in a very low density.

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

Reference

Belbachir, F., Pettorelli, N., Wacher, T., Belbachir-Bazi, A. & Durant, S. M. 2015. Monitoring Rarity: The Critically Endangered Saharan Cheetah as a Flagship Species for a Threatened Ecosystem. PLOS ONE 10(1): e0115136. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115136

Saharan Cheetah trying to climb a tree filmed by remote cameras at the Ahaggar Cultural Park, southern Algeria (March 2020).

Some mammal news from the last couple of years:

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

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

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

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