Introduction to the Zambian Carnivore Programme

Guest | June 29, 2022

In an era of rapid, human-induced ecological change, we have found accurate and current scientific information is vital for informing and guiding conservation. Our collaborative long-term studies of large carnivores, their prey, habitat, and the factors limiting and threatening them are therefore of critical importance.

We collaborate with an array of local partners to help ensure that threats are addressed through initiatives like:

  • Anti-poaching & wildlife crime prevention
  • Land-use planning
  • Species reintroduction
  • Human-carnivore conflict & disease mitigation

Anti-snaring and wildlife vet work 

With nearly 1,000 large carnivores intensively monitored throughout 3 ecosystems, a big part of our work is protecting big cats, wild dogs, and hyenas from wire-snare poaching.

While carnivores are not typically targeted by poachers, they often can get snared, resulting in severe injury or death. With support from generous donors like Green Safaris, we employ field-based Zambian wildlife vets across our 3 long-term projects in the Luangwa Valley, Greater Kafue and Greater Liuwa Ecosystems.

These vets lead well-equipped teams working with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) and our partners at each of our field sites. They are ready to respond quickly to a snared animal, maintain collared groups to ensure we can find and check carnivores, and conduct an array of conservation science, domestic animal and human-carnivore conflict work.

Dr Brian Musalo de-snares a wild dog at our Kafue field site. Photo: Daan Smit/ZCP

Intensive Carnivore Monitoring 

In 2021, our team intensively monitored nearly 700 wild dogs and lions in the Greater Kafue and Luangwa Valley Ecosystems using an intensive field effort (nearly 3,000 person days in the field), satellite-GPS collars, and aerial tracking support.
Image: Aerial photo of a collared lion pride in the Luangwa Valley. Photo: Dr. Matt Becker/ZCP

Human Carnivore Conflict

What does a reinforced pig boma have to do with big cats? It is just one part of a vital series of steps toward mitigating human-carnivore conflict (HCC).
Image one: HCC mitigation team member works with a community member in the Luangwa Valley who is the recipient of a reinforced pig boma built by ZCP with support from Green Safaris. Photo: Eric Njobvu/ZCP.

Green Safaris partners with ZCP’s Lion-livestock Conflict Mitigation work in Luangwa. While historically not an issue due to tsetse fly-borne diseases, livestock are increasingly present in the Luangwa Valley’s Game Management Areas and have resulted in increased conflict with lions.

Support from Green Safaris has allowed us to successfully implement mitigation measures focused on livestock conflict that includes community sensitization, distribution of aversive conditioning materials, boma reinforcements, and conflict assessments.

Additionally, in collaboration with Conservation South Luangwa and the DNPW, we now employ a full-time HCC Mitigation Team that can respond rapidly to reports of conflict and provide outreach and education for communities in conflict-prone areas.

Community meeting in the Luangwa Valley to discuss effective lion conflict mitigation techniques to promote coexistence. Photo: Eric Njobvu/ZCP.

Our Team: Meet Bridget Mayani 

A former trainee, now Senior Ecologist/Mentor in the Zambian Carnivore Programme Luangwa Valley’s Women in Wildlife Conservation (WIWC) Training Programme.

Educator extraordinaire, Bridget Mayani, enthusiastically shares her knowledge with students in our Conservation Clubs. Photo: Sandra Martens/ZCP.

This training programme focuses exclusively on promoting women, given their under-representation in the conservation sector in general and in conservation science in particular. In an effort to encourage Zambian women to pursue work in field-based conservation, trainees are paired with a female ZCP Ecologist like Bridget, to receive personal mentoring and training in all aspects of the field.

Bridget’s work is sponsored in part by the generosity of Green Safaris. On behalf of all the ZCP women in our WIWC Training Programme, we thank you for your support!

As a mentor for our WIWC Training Programme, Bridget teaches Tikambenji Mando, a new trainee at our Luangwa Valley field site, how to properly input field data. Photo: Eric Njobvu/ZCP.

Leadership in Conservation: Biologist Training

A core component of our work is ensuring the sustainability of science-based conservation through local leadership. For aspiring local Zambian conservation leaders there are few opportunities for gaining the field-based training and experience so critical to their careers. As one of the region’s longest-running carnivore conservation programmes, we fill a unique niche for conservation leadership development.

Johane teaches students in one of our conservation clubs at our Greater Kafue Ecosystem field site. Photo: Kachama Banda/ZCP.

Green Safaris partners with us to support our training programmes. Generous funds from Green Safaris provide a stipend and field kit for trainees like Johane Njobvu, a trainee in our Conservation Biologist Training Programme, part of our Greater Kafue Ecosystem project. This unique opportunity provides participants with practical field experience in all aspects of conservation biology.

Honing his field monitoring skills, Johane is becoming a vital member of the Kafue field team. Photo: Stephi Matsushima/ZCP.

The Unsung Heroes: Our Vehicles

Working across 37,000 km2 squared of remote bush in 5 ecosystems, logging over 4,000 person-days in the field year-round, and intensively monitoring nearly 1,000 big cats, wild dogs and hyenas, takes a beating on your vehicles!

Some of the team carry out engine repairs on a Land Rover used in Kafue.

Keeping our fleets of rugged Land Rovers running is therefore a crucial aspect of our conservation work, and we couldn’t do this without support from Green Safaris to help us with the maintenance and repair of these vital tools.

Kachama Band uses the Land Rover to improve the monitoring signal. Photo: Chase Dart/ZCP
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