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Spot, Snap & Share!

In the realm of wildlife conservation and management, accurately estimating population size and structure is of the utmost importance. This is particularly crucial for keystone species, such as large carnivores, as they play a pivotal role in ecosystem dynamics due to their position at the top of the food chain.  Comprehending carnivore ecology, behaviour, and population dynamics within Protected Areas is paramount for their conservation. It also enhances our ability to mitigate conflicts with human populations residing in the surrounding areas of these Protected Areas.

A Citizen Science Survey of Cheetahs & Leopards in Etosha National Park 

As surprising as it may seem, reliable population estimates for lions, spotted hyaenas, cheetahs and leopards in Namibia’s flagship Etosha National Park, are still missing. As part of our Greater Etosha Carnivore Programme, the Ongava Research Centre, the Etosha Ecological Institute and their collaborators are committed to filling that gap and will be conducting large-scale surveys in the park in 2024. 

Carnivores are notoriously difficult to count due to their wide-ranging behaviours, nocturnal habits, elusive natures and low densities. Luckily, scientists have developed methods which enable us to monitor population sizes! Lions and spotted hyaenas respond well to recorded vocalisations and can, therefore, be surveyed using call playbacks.

On the other hand, cheetahs and leopards have unique coat patterns, which allows for individual identification from direct observation or from photographs. The aim of our new Master's student, Ms. Mburae Keja, registered at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, will be to use individual identification to produce the first population size estimates for these two spotted cat species in Etosha.

And to do so, we need YOUR help!

We call on all visitors to Etosha to share their photographs of cheetahs and leopards with us so we can achieve our mission.

Every animal seen between the 1st of June 2024 and the 31st of May 2025 counts! 

You can submit your observations here: Survey form. You will be asked to indicate some details about your observation, such as date, location and the number of animals in the group and to share your email address with us so we can contact you if we need to (no spamming, promise). You can also simply send us an email with all the information about your sighting at etosha.census@orc.eco (one email per observation please). Your images will then be processed using a specialised Artificial Intelligence platform, the African Carnivore Wildbook.

Image submission will be open until 31st December 2025.

Image Guidelines: What We Need to identify the animals

For identification purposes, high-quality images capturing clear views of the animal's flanks are preferred. If you can provide images of both sides, this is the holy grail for us! Group pictures are also important to help us identify social relationships and cub survival rates. Profile (side) portraits are also valuable. 

However, frontal portraits are not ideal as the front of the face doesn’t show many unique features. Images of animals where most of their body is obstructed, such as when lying down, behind vegetation or walking away, are not particularly valuable either. The AI pattern recognition algorithm requires a clear contract to be able to do its job. Hence, pixelated pictures resulting from low resolution images or from the animal being too small in the frame will not be very helpful either.

Stand a chance to WIN BIG!

By sharing your pictures with us for this survey, you stand a chance to win a

two-night stay for two people at Andersson's @ Ongava!

Located on the Ongava Game Reserve adjacent to Etosha, Anderssons @ Ongava is home to the Ongava Research Centre. 

The fortunate winner will be immersed in the complete experience that Andersson's has to offer. This includes unparalleled game-viewing opportunities, accessible even from the luxurious comfort of their accommodation. The central bar and relaxation area, strategically positioned to overlook a frequently visited waterhole, seamlessly integrates with the natural surroundings. You will also have prime access to the Ongava Discovery Centre, a treasure trove of knowledge and information about ecology and conservation. Since the Ongava Research Centre is also located at Andersson's, you will be able to interact with the researchers conducting this survey first-hand, meet the rest of our team and learn more about the Ongava Research Centre projects and mission.

The winner will be announced by 1st March 2026.

 

The winner will be randomly drawn from the pool of participants who submitted images from which individuals could be identified. Each submission will count as one entry. Therefore, the more observations you submit, the higher your chance of winning! 

Project Partners

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Images copyright and intellectual property disclaimer

By submitting your images to this survey, you allow Ongava Research to use them solely to identify individual cheetahs and leopards and give them the intellectual property of the data extracted from these images. Submitted images will not be used for any commercial purpose. The copyright and property of images remain entirely with the person submitting them. If the Ongava Research Centre (or collaborators) wishes to use the images to display to the public for research/illustration purposes, the person who submitted the image will be contacted, permission will be asked, and owner copyright will be clearly displayed on the image.

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