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.
We are pleased to say that our latest six-month report is now out, and you can download it here. As you will see, everyone has been busy, and we want to thank everyone who has helped us, as we couldn’t do any of our work without your support. Please send it on to anyone you think would be interested, and we hope that you enjoy reading it! RCP report July 2012
We just thought we would share some of our camera-trapping images – this is a lovely photo of a serval camera-trapped near Ruaha River Lodge. These cats are very elusive and hard to see, so it was great to get such a clear photo of one!
Thanks so much to the Taronga Conservation Society of Australia, who have recently approved a Conservation Partnership Grant with RCP. This will allow us to trial the use of livestock guarding dogs (such as the Anatolian Shepherd dogs used at Cheetah Conservation Fund and elsewhere), and see if they can help people reduce their livestock losses while out grazing in the bush. This is one of the hardest issues to deal with, so we are very excited about trialling the dogs, and are very grateful to Taronga for all their support. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this grant possible!
We have just finished our transects of camera-traps, and are havng a short break while we develop a grid system for greater coverage of the landscape. In the meantime, we have lent some of the camera-traps to tourist lodges in Ruaha National Park, and they have already been getting shots of large carnivores – this leopard was photographed on the very first night of trying at Ruaha River Lodge! We are hoping for more images soon, as the leopard is being a little shy here!
We are thrilled to report that our Senior Research Assistant, Monty Kalyahe, has been awarded a Handsel Scholarship from the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). This funding will allow him to complete his Masters degree and further his career in wildlife conservation, so we are all extremely pleased. Monty hopes to enrol into Manchester Metropolitan University for his Masters thesis, which will be using our camera-trapping data to examine carnivore diversity and relative abundance across different land use zones in the Ruaha landscape. Congratulations, Monty, and thanks to WCN!
Thanks to a generous donation from Cincinnati Zoo’s Angel Fund, we have been able to start conducting educational visits into Ruaha National Park, for both local schoolchildren and pastoralists. These trips have proved extremely popular, and have really changed peoples’ attitudes towards the Park, particularly amongst the pastoralists, who often have poor relationships with Park personnel. The highlights of the trips are always seeing lions and elephants in a relaxed state, and watching the small planes land and take off at the Msembe airstrip! Here are a few photos of some recent trips…….
Amy is just getting ready to leave for the USA, where she will be attending some events and giving some talks about the work of the Ruaha Carnivore Project. She will be in New York for the Explorers Club dinner on March 17th, and will then go to Cincinnati, to present a Barrows Conservation Lecture on March 21st – for more details see
Then she will travel to Dallas, to give a talk at the zoo there, and then on the 24th March will go to Washington DC to see the project’s National Geographic sponsors and meet up with other project supporters. We hope that this will be a very useful trip, and will help spread the word about the valuable work being done by the Ruaha Carnivore Project.
Andrew Harrington – http://www.harringtonphotography.com/ – recently visited the project, and was kind enough to take some videos of the RCP staff and some of the issues the project deals with. The videos have been uploaded on Vimeo, so you can check them out here:
Thanks to the UK Rotary Club, we have managed to order all the equipment needed to fully equip a healthcare clinic in Kitisi, the village where the project is based. We have been in contact with local MPs and officials, and hope to have the clinic open in early March. This will be hugely important clinic for local people, and will demonstrate a very clear benefir to local people from the presence of the project – and therefore large carnivores – on village land. Thanks again, Rotary Club, and we will keep you all posted on development.
Download the latest project report here
In October, Amy was awarded the Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation, from Panthera. This prize recognises individuals who have made a significant contribution to wild cat conservation, and who represent the next generation of conservationists, so it was a huge honour and reflects the hard work of the entire RCP team.