Mongabay.com, the popular website that focuses on environmental and conservation issues, has published an in-depth interview with Dr. Amy Dickman about the Ruaha Carnivore Project’s work in the Ruaha landscape of southern Tanzania. Read the interview at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0910-hance-dickman-ruaha.html.
We are thrilled to announce that RCP’s Community Liaison Officer, Ayubu Msago, has been selected as one of the Disney Conservation Heroes for 2013! Msago truly deserves this honour – he has dedicated his whole career to wildlife conservation and has made huge positive impacts on both people and wildlife.
In 2009, Msago was part of the small team that started RCP under very difficult conditions – there were only 3 people living in small tents in a very remote wilderness area, and the local tribe, the Barabaig, were extremely secretive and hostile. Msago worked tirelessly to build a field camp for the project and spent years patiently trying to build relationships with the Barabaig, who were killing an extremely high number of lions, usually in response to attacks upon livestock. One night, a young Barabaig girl went missing, and Msago helped organize a search party for her and searched for 3 days till she was found, very dehydrated but alive, in the bush. This helped him bond with the fearsome Barabaig warriors, and enabled him to become the first outsider that they accepted and were willing to work with.
Msago also hashelped villagers protect their livestock from carnivores by constructing more than 50 predator-proof corrals, and not a single head of livestock has been lost in one of these enclosures. Msago works tirelessly to help villagers prevent carnivore attacks, and even heroically saved the life of a villager who was being attacked by a lion, at extreme risk to his own life. With only one bullet left in his gun, he chose to protect the villager rather than save a bullet in case it was needed in self-defence, and chased the lion off by shooting over her head.
Long-term conservation depends upon local people seeing real benefits from conservation, so Msago has also worked endlessly to develop meaningful community benefit initiatives. He worked with the national government to equip a healthcare clinic, helped establish secondary school scholarships for pastoralist children and developed a program to link village schools with international schools. He is endlessly passionate about conservation – he conducts wildlife DVD nights in local villages, which have engaged over 10,000 people so far, and has taken hundreds of warriors, women and schoolchildren on educational visits to the nearby National Park. Living in a small, remote tent, hundreds of miles from his wife and children, Msago is making a huge difference to the conservation of over a tenth of the world’s remaining lions, while also helping local communities see real benefits from carnivore presence. His dedication, passion and patience have played a huge role in RCP’s success – lion killings have declined in the core study area by 70%, and that could never have been achieved without Msago – he truly is a conservation hero and we are thrilled that he has received this international recognition.
In her next visit to the United States in late March/early April, Dr. Amy Dickman, Director of the Ruaha Carnivore Project, has public talks scheduled in Des Moines, Iowa, and Houston, Texas.
Amy will be speaking at Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo on March 28 as part of the zoo’s 2013 Conservation Series. A social lasting from 6:00 p.m. will be followed by Amy’s presentation at 7:00. Tickets are $15 for zoo members and $20 for nonmembers and can be purchased here.
On April 9, Amy will speak at the Houston Zoo as part of its Call of the Wild series. The Houston Zoo’s Brown Education Center Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and Amy’s presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 for nonmembers and $10 for members. Click here to purchase tickets for the event.
Please revisit this page as additional public events will be added as they are confirmed.
In late February 2013, the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) launched a subsidised veterinary medicine programme that provides high-quality medicines to Ruaha-area pastoralists at a subsidised cost. The programme is in response to a survey of local villagers conducted by RCP, asking what benefits they would most appreciate from carnivore presence.
The medicines are available to people who have worked with RCP to fence their bomas (livestock enclosures), to reward those who have invested in predator-proofing and to encourage others to follow suit. And, because the majority of livestock loss in this area is due to illness and injury, not wildlife depredation, the medicines will help villagers reduce losses to disease, thereby improving their economic security.
We are grateful to the American Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund for helping us purchase and distribute the medicine.
Now donors have another option for giving to the Ruaha Carnivore Project. The Houston Zoo has launched a website for the conservation of lions as part of the American Zoo and Aquarium’s Lion Species Survival Plan. The Ruaha Carnivore Project is one of four organizations featured on the site, which can be found at http://www.houstonzoo.org/
We’re grateful to the Houston Zoo, the Denver Zoo (which partnered with Houston on this), and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association for including us on this gorgeous website. Please check it out!
The Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) has awarded its first six Simba Scholarships to pastoralist children in the area. Simba Scholarships are four-year scholarships to secondary boarding schools and cover all costs including books, uniforms and mattresses.
Unlike in the Serengeti area, area villagers see few tangible benefits from living just outside Ruaha National Park but suffer the consequences—namely livestock lost to lions and hyaenas. To address this, RCP surveyed area residents about what benefits they would like to see. Better access to education was one of the most commonly named priorities.
RCP created Simba Scholarships to fill that need. Because primary education is free but secondary education isn’t, many pastoralist children—whose families often exist on less than $2 per day—are forced to drop out of school. Also, the pastoralists’ semi-nomadic lifestyle on the furthest edges of communities makes attending school difficult. For these reasons, the Simba Scholarships are awarded to pastoralist children who show need but also a desire to continue their education.
The Simba Scholars begin their secondary education at Idodi Secondary School in mid-February.
Meet our first three Simba Scholars:
Isaya Kuyesa is a Maasai boy from Tungamalenga village. He comes from a poor pastoralist family with five children – he is the third and has one sister and three brothers. He enjoys playing football (soccer) and reading.
Herieth Charles is a Sukuma girl who lives in Idodi village. She likes reading and wants to be a nurse when she grows up. Her father died a few years ago, which always leaves the wives and children very vulnerable. Her father had several wives and other children, and when he died the other wives took all the cattle and abandoned Herieth’s mother and her four children. Herieth lives in the centre of the village but is usually alone there, which is not a great situation for a young woman, so it is great that she will be boarding at secondary school from now on.
Grace Nchachi is a Maasai girl from Idodi village. Her interests are reading and netball. Her father has three wives and seven children, and she is the child of the first wife and has a brother and a sister as well as four half-siblings.
Check back here soon for bios for the other three Simba Scholars
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
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…….