New lion paper highlights Ruaha’s importance

A recent study led by Duke University estimates that 75% of lion habitat has disappeared in the last 50 years and that the world’s lion population has plummeted from approximately 100,000 individuals to about 32,000. Alarmingly, there are only 10 ‘strongholds’ of lions left in the world, where lions have a good long-term chance of survival. Forty percent of lions are found in Tanzania, with more than 10%–the second largest population in the world–living in the Ruaha landscape of southern Tanzania.

“The Ruaha landscape has such a large, viable population because it is a vast, relatively untouched area with healthy prey populations,” says article co-author and Ruaha Carnivore Project Director Dr Amy Dickman. However, conservation threats persist even within the remaining strongholds – Ruaha, for instance, has some of the some of the highest rates of lion killings in east Africa. ”People often fail to realize how threatened lions really are, and how urgently they need our help.” says Amy. “It is really important that we invest heavily in areas such as Ruaha where there is a reasonable chance that future generations can still see lions.”

The Ruaha Carnivore Project is the only nongovernmental organization working on the ground to protect large carnivores in the Ruaha landscape, which includes Ruaha National Park, the surrounding Wildlife Management Areas and 21 neighboring villages. RCP uses a variety of tools, including “predator-proof bomas”, incentive programs for local people, education about large carnivores, and partnering with the ‘Lion Guardians’ program, to stop the retaliatory and ritualistic killing of lions. In the last two years, the number of lions killed in the Ruaha landscape has fallen by about 60%.

Much still needs to be done to ensure that the important progress made so far in this area continues. In 2013, RCP plans to introduce livestock guarding dogs, increase the number of Lion Guardians, and continue to develop community programmes to ensure that local people see real benefits from living alongside large carnivores.

Please help RCP continue its work to ensure that Ruaha continues to be a stronghold for the lion by donating today.

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