Introduction to Panthera
Guest | June 29, 2022
Founded in 2006, Panthera is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 species of wild cats and the vast ecosystems they inhabit.
In order to survive, and more importantly, to thrive, wild cats need three things. They are not unlike what humans need. Wild cats need a safe space, plentiful prey/ food, and a connection to other cats.
Due to the rising threats of poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, human-cat conflict and habitat loss, it is becoming increasingly difficult for wild cats across the world to have access to these basic necessities in order to live. Panthera, along with our partners and our supporters, work to give critically endangered cat populations a new chance at life.
Our team is now going to introduce you to three of the most powerful tools we use in partnership with Zambia’s Department of National Parks to protect big cats in Zambia, along with one of our major projects:
- Camera Trapping
- Citizen’s Science
- Halo Protection
- The North Carolina Zoo Vulture Project
What is Camera Trapping?
Every year our Panthera team, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, places cameras carefully across the Kafue National Park in order to measure population trends in leopard and lion populations. To date, we have set more than 1,000 of our specially designed Panthera Camera Traps.
Each camera is left in place for approximately six weeks, including in areas near Ila Safari Lodge and Chisa Busanga Camp. Operators such as these lodges do vital work to keep the cameras safe and to garner support by explaining their purpose to guests.
Sometimes we even get to share the experience of Camera Trapping with Green Safaris guests, inviting them to get involved as we either set up the camera or go back to collect and admire the pictures taken.
Camera Trapping is a vital conservation tool. Also a hilarious glimpse into the lives of our wild neighbours… is that a Honey Badger taking off with a Pangolin?
Citizen’s Science Program
Our teams work together to keep up with Lion Populations in the area. Counting carnivores is not particularly easy as they’re often shy, cryptic and occur at naturally low densities. Knowing population densities, distribution, population structure and composition is crucial as it assists with management decisions to ensure what we are doing is having an impact.
In the Kafue, we have come up with a wonderful way to work together with the operators to spread our knowledge net a little wider.
In addition to our camera trapping program and focal monitoring, we have joined together under a “citizens science program” using a search and encounter approach to capture all sightings by guides whenever they are taking tourists out for a safari game drive. Our tag line is “Make every safari count” and the guides are incredible.
Green Safaris Conservation Foundation has been a significant supporter of our efforts in Kafue National Park since the beginning of the program. All Ila and Chisa guides have been part of the program since the very beginning in 2018 providing us with high-quality data and photos to uniquely ID every lion, wild dog and cheetah.
From these guide encounters, we can estimate population size and even calculate home ranges and population structure.
As part of the program every guide is equipped with a special data recording device and a camera, and every safari drive they undertake is called a search and encounter patrol.
This year we were able to calculate lion population densities and found that Lions are almost four times more abundant on the Busanga plains- Hooray! This is where Green Safaris conservation foundation has supported the dedicated Wild Cat antipoaching patrol team since 2019.
The Halo Protection Approach
Together with DNPW, our team began a program of in situ protection across intensive protection zones in Zambia – both supported by Green Safaris Conservation Foundation.
As a result of our combined efforts, for the first time in the last 6 years Hook bridge pride (also known as Ila pride) has successfully grown cubs into subadults to become part of Kafue’s next generation of lions.