The Ruaha landscape is incredibly important for large carnivores – it supports Africa’s second largest lion population (containing around 10% of all lions left in the world), as well as the world’s third largest population of endangered African wild dogs, and globally important populations of cheetahs, leopards and spotted hyaenas. However, it has been extremely understudied, and gathering scientific data on Ruaha’s carnivores has been highlighted as a priority for conservation.
We are using various techniques to learn more about Ruaha’s carnivores, including camera-trapping (the use of remotely triggered cameras to photograph any passing animal), documenting any signs of carnivores, such as footprints or droppings, and direct sightings. As the Ruaha landscape is so vast, we are working in partnership with Ruaha National Park staff, lodges and tourists, to get people to send in any sightings of large carnivores around Ruaha.
This has been very productive so far – we have conducted initial camera-trapping across the landscape, and one of our Tanzanian research assistants will be using these data for his MSc, while we have had over 1500 carnivore sightings reported to us. We will share these data with the Tanzanian authorities and other stakeholders, so that we can help them develop the most appropriate conservation and management strategies for these globally important large carnivore populations.