“The research proposed in this project is creative, innovative and important. It aims to develop a new use of the footprint identification technique that will help conservationists improve the survival of wild cheetah populations. Larissa Slaney is a highly capable, determined and organised researcher; I am glad she is doing this work and I fully support her.”
Prof Francoise Wemelsfelder,
“I first met Larissa Slaney when she assisted me in the laboratory with my research on the ‘Functional analysis of genes regulating barley drought stress’; she is full of tenacity and I thoroughly enjoyed working with her.
The time, effort, and determination Larissa has put into her ‘Fit Cheetahs’ conservation project is remarkable and inspirational. It is needless to say the research is important, highly relevant and timely.
Larissa’s knowledge and enthusiasm for conservation is reflected in the way she approaches her work and I am very confident she will carry this project to success. I therefore strongly support Larissa and her ‘Fit Cheetahs’ project.”
Dr Charlotte Wendelboe-Nelson
Research Associate in Human Health and the Exposome
Heriot-Watt University, Scotland
“This research project, investigating whether relatedness can be determined by FIT in cheetahs, carries enormous possibilities for improving cheetah conservation. If a non-invasive, cost effective means to determine relatedness in this species is found, it could save cheetahs around the world. This technique, if successful, may also pave the way for saving other endangered species and therefore it is essential that this project gets the funding required.
I met Larissa Slaney while volunteering at Naankuse recently, so I was lucky enough to learn from and assist her with cheetah FIT. Her knowledge, determination and enthusiasm for her research project is inspirational and as a result, I strongly endorse this project.”
Dr Eloise Koelmeyer BSc BVSc,
Gungahlin Veterinary Hospital, Australia
“With human populations continuing to rise, the need for accurate population modelling with regards to planning conservation measures for vulnerable and endangered animals has never been as relevant as it is now in the 21st Century. Habitat loss due to human encroachment and land use-management, in conjunction with increasing levels of human-wildlife conflict as a result of competition for space and resources, have exerted unparalleled pressure on wildlife populations across the World.
This is certainly the case in the arid deserts and bushveldt of Namibia, southern Africa, which is estimated to hold approximately 25-33% of the World’s cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) population making it one of the last great strongholds of this unique big cat.
Cryptic and secretive, the cheetah is notoriously difficult to perform accurate population counts for. Covering large distances, with over-lapping home-ranges, population estimates may be artificially high due to individuals being counted multiple times from different parts of their range.
Therefore, the development of non-invasive techniques such as F.I.T. (Footprint Identification Technique) and genetic analysis of scat may be our best opportunity to model cheetah population to a high degree of accuracy. The fact that this does not require direct contact with the animal, removes unwanted stress factors. Furthermore, these non-invasive techniques may also give us vital information on the relatedness of individuals and thus the genetic variety and strength of distinct populations.
Much more research and study must be performed in these types of monitoring techniques if we are to have any hope in saving the last vestiges of wilderness, and the species they contain, before the rising tide of humanity swamps them and wipes them out forever.
I therefore welcome and support Larissa Slaney’s ‘Fit Cheetahs’ project”, which has the potential to make a real difference in animal conservation. And I look forward to working with Larissa again.”
Stuart Munro, BSc (Honours) Zoology
Wildlife Research Biologist, Scotland & Namibia
“Conservation is important. It is thanks to the hard work of dedicated scientists like Larissa Slaney we are made aware of population trends, producing facts that allow policy makers to make informed decisions. However, without the support from people who believe in their research, many projects and potentially life changing discoveries risk to go unnoticed.
I believe in Larissa Slaney. I believe in her as a researcher and as an individual capable of making a difference. I believe in FIT and in her project – a project that holds great potential not only to reduce the need for invasive methods in wildlife population surveillance, but also to influence cheetah conservation practises globally. Don’t let this extraordinary project and these beautiful big cats become silenced.”
BSc Biology student, Gothenburg University, Sweden