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Although cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus were once widespread in the Horn of Africa, their presence in Somaliland has not been confirmed since 2010, and they have been presumed extirpated in recent years. During 2021–2022 the Cheetah Conservation Fund and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in Somaliland carried out two rapid surveys in the Awdal region of western Somaliland to investigate the status of the cheetah in this area. The team collected socio-ecological data from 26 villages for a total of 13 days. In both years people from most villages reported sightings of cheetahs, and the team also received multiple reports of predation on small livestock (sheep and goats) by cheetahs. We also investigated two reports of recent cheetah presence. This led to finding a set of confirmed cheetah tracks, which we followed for > 250 m, and two large feline scrapes, both approximately the size expected of a cheetah. In 2020 and 2022 we received direct evidence of cheetah presence in the form of mature cheetah carcasses. In the first instance the cheetah was reported as having been shot in defence of livestock, and in the second instance two cheetahs were apparently poison-baited. Both reports were accompanied by photographic records. This combination of social and ecological data means that we can confirm the recent presence of wild cheetahs in western Somaliland. We will now prioritize work with local communities to understand and mitigate human–cheetah conflict and continue to investigate the distribution of cheetahs throughout Somaliland.
Technological advancements in remote sensing and telemetry provide opportunities for assessing the effects of expanding extractive industries on animal populations. Here, we illustrate the applicability of resource selection functions (RSFs) for modelling wildlife habitat selection on industrially-disturbed landscapes. We used grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) from a threatened population in Canada and surface mining as a case study. RSF predictions based on GPS radiocollared bears (nduring mining = 7; npost mining = 9) showed that males and solitary females selected areas primarily outside mineral surface leases (MSLs) during active mining, and conversely inside MSLs after mine closure. However, females with cubs selected areas within compared to outside MSLs irrespective of mining activity. Individual variability was pronounced, although some environmental- and human-related variables were consistent across reproductive classes. For males and solitary females, regional-scale RSFs yielded comparable results to site-specific models, whereas for females with cubs, modelling the two scales produced divergent results. While mine reclamation may afford opportunities for bear persistence, managing public access will likely decrease the risk of human-caused bear mortality. RSFs are powerful tools that merit widespread use in quantitative and visual investigations of wildlife habitat selection on industrially-modified landscapes, using Geographic Information System layers that precisely characterize site-specific conditions.
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