The Cats of Namibia

by F.

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The FT has a good piece on the big cat situation in Namibia.

One of the leopards’ and cheetahs’ main difficulties in Namibia is that they are forced to share territory with stock farmers. The arbitrary killing of all leopards has been found to be largely counter-productive since a single territorial male or female will keep out other potentially more numerous wanderers. Cheetahs are more vulnerable because as cubs they need to be taught how to hunt. Despite their celebrated speed, they are among the weaker felines, often having to abandon a kill because other carnivores, such as hyenas, will move in and take over. In Namibia, cheetahs seem to suffer more cataracts and eye injuries; over-grazing has led to bush encroachment – the massive spread of sickle bush and camel thorn in particular. These thorny shrubs often damage cheetahs’ eyes during their hunting sprints but the denser bush has also made them harder to spot by trigger-happy farmers.

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