Mara Meru


GENERAL GOAL of the current research is identification of behavioral adaptations and assessment of impact of social structure on reproductive success and survival of the cheetah in the protected areas under anthropogenic influence


  • Estimation cheetah population dynamics in Mara and cheetah population status in Meru based on individual identification. Building Mara Cheetah Pedigree
  • Providing baseline information on cheetah social structure, habitat use, demographics and ranging patterns
  • Identification of major threats to the cheetah population: health problems (injures; diseases, i.e. sarcoptic mange etc.); conflict with herders; poaching and evidential snaring etc.
  • Evaluation of the predator impact on cheetah survival (with focus on lion, hyena and leopard)
  • Study development of patterns of behavior (dominant at a certain age) contributing to the species survival
  • Evaluation of the predator impact and human activity on cheetah behavior and identification of optimal behavior strategies for survival
  • Assessing the extent of human-cheetah conflict in the study areas and working out optimal solutions
  • Provide information for the development of management policies that will support a healthy and sustainable cheetah population in and around protected areas
  • Establishing educational programs and providing training to engage local people in conservation
  • Promote an understanding of the importance of cheetah conservation among international and local stakeholders

Dr. Elena Chelysheva is Russian zool­o­gist with broad knowl­edge of cap­tive and wild chee­tah ecol­ogy and behav­ior and over 25 years of expe­ri­ence. Former super­vi­sor of Carnivore Department of Moscow Zoo Conservation Center (Russia) she worked with in dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions includ­ing: Moscow zoo (Russia), pri­vate zoo (UAE), Gilman Foundation White Oak Conservation Centre (USA).

In 1999–2000 she was full-time vol­un­teer at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. At CCF, Elena’s activities included: participation in production of the 1998 International Cheetah Studbook; counting wild game; daily husbandry of short-term wild and non-releasable animals (cheetahs, leopard); research on controlled taste aversion program in leopard; transport and medical procedures on wild leopard, cheetah including skin biopsy, blood sampling and preparation; tagging and transpondering; radio-tracking cheetahs; research and writing for the Cheetah Husbandry Manual and Education Centre and Cheetah Museum panels). In 2001–2002, Elena worked with the KWS Masai Mara Cheetah Conservation Project in the Mara region, which included Maasai-Mara National Reserve and adjacent areas (Koyiaki, Lemek, Ol Kinyei, Sians and Maji Moto group ranches). At that time, she developed an orig­i­nal method of chee­tah identification. In 2008 Elena obtained her PhD from Russian State Agrarian Correspondence University after com­plet­ing the­sis on chee­tah con­ser­va­tion and social behav­ior of captive chee­tahs and impli­ca­tions of social struc­ture of wild chee­tahs.