Dennis Goodluck Minja
- 2020–Present: PhD Student, Institute of Zoology and the University of Glasgow
- 2014–2020: Project Manager, Serengeti Cheetah Project
- 2011–2014: Large Carnivore Program Coordinator, Tanzania People and Wildlife Fund
- 2009–2011: Research Assistant, Tarangire Lion Project
- 2008–2011: MSc in Wildlife Management, Sokoine University of Agriculture
- 2005–2008: BSc in Wildlife Management, Sokoine University of Agriculture
My research interests focus on large carnivore ecology and their interaction with humans. I previously studied lion feeding behaviour and looked at how landscape features within protected areas affected lion hunting success. Nevertheless, in the last seven years I have spent as project manager to the Serengeti Cheetah Project gathering demographic, ecological and behavioural data on individually known cheetahs living in and around the Serengeti National Park. This has raised my interest in how large carnivores use the landscape and navigate around human impacts in the ecosystem.
My PhD research aims to understand the influence of habitat and anthropogenic pressures on cheetah hunting success and habitat use in the Serengeti ecosystem. The Serengeti ecosystem supports an important component of one of only two remaining cheetah populations numbering more than 1000 individuals and thus has great significance for cheetah conservation. However, even in this large protected area system, cheetahs face significant pressures. In the Serengeti, core protected areas have been intensively encroached across the boundaries recently by cattle, especially during the dry season when grazing pressure is highest.
Cheetahs of the Serengeti experience a lot of pressure from tourist activities, including harassment from vehicles driving too close which can obstruct and disturb hunts, or prevent cheetahs escaping from other threatening predators. This study will explore the impacts of these human pressures (both from truism and grazing) on cheetah hunting behaviour and ranging patterns. It will build on the substantial amount of work already conducted and gather additional targeted data in order to establish the impacts of human activities on cheetah. It will explore how these impacts affect cheetah hunting behaviour and movement in the context of wider environmental impacts on the ecosystem. This information will also be used to help to provide insights and advice on how to manage grazing and tourist pressure in ways that best support cheetah survival.
Prof. Sarah Durant, Institute of Zoology, London
Dr. Chris Carbone, Institute of Zoology, London
Dr. Thomas Morrison, University of Glasgow
Dr. Grant Hopcraft, University of Glasgow