Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe
Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe was founded in 2012 by Dr. Esther van der Meer. The project aims to conserve cheetahs through applied research, education, collaboration and capacity building. With our research we try to address questions that can help us to improve the conservation strategy of cheetahs. When we started our project it quickly became apparent that there was little to no reliable information available on cheetah distribution in Zimbabwe, which is why we are currently carrying out a country wide cheetah population survey. We try to build capacity in carnivore conservation by working together with young Zimbabwean students and, where necessary, provide education to field staff about cheetahs, carnivore conservation and carnivore-human conflict mitigation. Carnivore projects working on one species inevitably collect data on other species, in order to facilitate data sharing we have set up collaborations with other carnivore conservation projects.
The cheetah team
The cheetah team consists of Dr. Esther van der Meer, assisted by her husband Hans Dullemont. Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe is affiliated to the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management. Students from NUST and other universities join the cheetah team for various periods of time to gain experience in carnivore conservation. In addition, we work together with students from the Mushandike Wildlife College, the college where employees from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority receive their training.
Dr. Esther van der Meer
I studied biology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, where I obtained an MSc in ecology and an MSc in environmental education. After finishing my studies I worked as a lobbyist/policy advisor for a Dutch animal welfare organisation. In 2006 I moved to Zimbabwe to work on a PhD on African wild dog conservation ecology. After finishing my PhD I set up Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe.
After working as a mechanic in the Netherlands for seventeen years I decided it was time to see the world. In 2004 I came to Zimbabwe to help a conservation project to get their cars back on the road. Ever since then I have worked as a mechanic all over the African continent. In 2012 I settled in Zimbabwe to assist my wife with Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe.
In order to build capacity in carnivore conservation our field team consists of young Zimbabwean students. Some are joining us as part of their attachment year, some are joining us after graduation to gain additional experience in carnivore conservation.