Changing Planet

Population Effects From Snared Lion Rescues

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 Zambia Carnivore Programme

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.


While his own research focuses on learning about and protecting the fossa, Madagascar's elusive top predator, Luke Dollar has also devoted himself to promoting smart and effective conservation throughout the world. As a part of this larger dedication, he also heads up National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative. Learn More About Luke Dollar and His Work
  • Bwalya Mutale

    Great work ZCP. It’s important that poaching is checked in all its forms if natural resources are to be preserved.

  • Lauren


  • Mike

    Great work. The snares are cruel and indiscriminate. The poachers need to be hunted down no imprisoned to set examples and deter others.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media