The Desert Ghost

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BBC Earth News has this astonishing story with photographic proof that the elusive Saharan cheetah exists. How many in number, scientists are unclear still, but the evidence is there in the very first photograph from a camera trap in the dead of night somewhere in Niger.

By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

One of the world’s most elusive cats has been photographed by a night time camera trap, after a year-long search for the animal.

The ghostly image of the Saharan cheetah has excited conservationists, as perhaps fewer than 10 of the cats survive in the deserts of Termit, Niger, where the photograph was taken.

Almost nothing is known of the Saharan cheetah, except that it endures extremely high temperatures and appears to survive without a permanent source of water.

Scientists working for the Saharan Conservation Fund (SCF) took the image as part of the Saharan Carnivore Project, an effort launched in conjunction with the University of Oxford, UK, four years ago to research and document larger predators roaming one of the world’s most inhospitable habitats.

SCF researchers, led by John Newby and Tim Wacher, focused their attention on the Niger’s Termit Massif and the neighbouring Tin Toumma desert.

These areas have become the most important remaining refuges for wildlife in the entire Sahara.

Although conservationists have been working in or around the massif since 2000, they have only observed cheetahs there three times, and the cat has not been photographed.

That was until a camera trap, set by SCF researchers, captured an eerie image of a Saharan cheetah passing by at night.

Read the full article here: Ghostly Saharan Cheetah

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CHEETAH WATCH
 

Currently I'm working on my new film, Chasing Cheetah, based in Namibia; a documentary road trip searching for the cheetah in the midst of human-wildlife conflict.