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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 16:39 GMT
In Pictures: Counting Namibia's cheetahs

Project worker with young cheetah

Namibia is known to have the largest cheetah population in the world. The Okatumba Wildlife Research project aims to find out how many there are. [Photos: Square Dog Radio]

A worker walks past a box cage

Cheetahs are so keen to get to the "marking" trees, where the females leave their scent, that they enter the project's cages. They are then tranquillised and given radio collars.

A volunteer practises using a blowpipe

Dummy cheetahs are used in training. This worker is learning how to use a blowpipe to fire a tranquilliser dart.

A cheetah is released from a box cage after having a radio collar fitted

Results so far suggest that the cheetah population is currently around 4,000 - a significant increase on the 1982 estimate of 2,500.

Volunteers pick up signals from a cheetah's radio collar

Volunteer teams use radio-telemetry equipment to find cheetahs that have radio collars. Visual sightings are very rare so this is the most effective way to locate them.

A group of workers looks for animal tracks on a farm road

The team also uses the technique of counting "spoor" or paw prints. The number of spoors on a road can be directly related to the number of cheetahs in the area.

Animal tracks in the road

On this occasion, the tracks had been made by donkeys and dogs, which could only mean there were poachers in the area.

Kudu antelope

Another good indication of cheetah numbers is the availability of their prey, such as these kudu antelope.


Cheetahs are shy and elusive. They move around mostly at night, avoiding contact with humans.

A volunteer is shown how to fill a tranquilliser dart

Project scientist Harald Forster shows a volunteer how to fill the tranquiliser darts. Sun, Spoor And Spots will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 17 December at 2100 GMT.


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