Short Communication

European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 281-285

First online:

Social and genetic population structure of free-ranging cheetah in Botswana: implications for conservation

  • Desiré L. DaltonAffiliated withNational Zoological Gardens of South AfricaGenetics Department, University of the Free State Email author 
  • , Pauline CharruauAffiliated withDepartment of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Population Genetics, University of Veterinary MedicineResearch Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine
  • , Lorraine BoastAffiliated withCheetah Conservation Botswana, Mokolodi Nature Reserve
  • , Antoinette KotzéAffiliated withNational Zoological Gardens of South AfricaGenetics Department, University of the Free State

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Once widely distributed throughout Africa, cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) occur today within fragmented populations and are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Botswana currently hosts the second largest cheetah population throughout the species’ range. This study initiated a molecular genetic survey of wild Botswana cheetah populations. It focused on the relatedness within presumed social groups using 14 microsatellite markers and revealed a higher proportion of unrelated male coalitions than was expected. Based on the unrelated cheetahs only, the estimation of the genetic variation corresponded with results from recent studies on different African populations. The analysis of unrelated individuals indicated limited genetic differentiation between cheetahs from different regions of Botswana. This suggests that the Botswana cheetah population might represent a unique panmictic population as long as sufficient levels of gene flow are maintained within the distribution range. This baseline information will now be incorporated to develop management strategies and set priorities for cheetah conservation in Botswana.


Acinonyx jubatus Microsatellite markers Social and population structure Botswana