Post submitted by Zamiban Carnivore Programme. Photo by Luke Dollar
Zambia shares borders with eight countries, and nearly 40% of its land is managed for wildlife. There are large tracts of unfenced protected area networks that are of critical importance for large carnivore conservation. However, the challenges Zambia’s wildlife and wild places face are unprecedented, complex, rapidly changing, and in need of collaboration among all sectors in conservation.
Image courtesy of Patrick Bently.
Wire-snaring, an inexpensive, quiet alternative to poaching with firearms, is rampant throughout all of the Zambian Carnivore Program (ZCP) study areas and fuels a large-scale commercial bushmeat trade. Due to the indiscriminate nature of snares, these devastating poaching tools can inflict significant injuries and mortality on all mammal species. In Luangwa Valley, ZCP, whose efforts are funded in part by national Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative via grants to Dr. Matt Becker and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Thandiwe Mweetwa, has a long-standing collaboration with Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) to collaboratively support anti-poaching work to combat snaring, evaluate snaring patterns, trends and the efficacy of anti-poaching efforts, and reduce its impact on large carnivores. With two full-time veterinarians employed across the three field-sites, ZCP is able to react quickly and effectively to reports of snares or snare-wound animals.
Zambian Carnivore Programme is happy to report that they have de-snared dozens of lions and as a result these efforts have led to the saving – and eventual birth – of over 130 lions. ZCP’s long-term lion conservation efforts have show that for 20-lions de-snared, more than 100 cubs were born.
ZCP’s blending of rigorous scientific research and immediate field based conservation actions has allowed them to address a myriad of threats big cats face today and witness the direct impacts of their efforts.