The crucial point of our predator research study is basically, the idea of getting scientific data comprehend it, and consequently, apply it to solve ecological problems. In Botswana, farmers and predators are enemies (in this case, I include the five carnivore species we study). This is, and will always be a huge challenge for carnivore researchers. How are going to make large carnivore population viable, as well as preventing their effect on peoples’ livelihood investment-their livestock? This answers the question why this blog considers carnivore research to be significant, and desperately needs help and support from people worldwide. As predators are cryptic and nocturnal, the costs are extremely high. As result, our research will always relay on donations (of any amount) to successfully accomplish our goals. One of Botswana Predator Conservation Program (BPCT)’s long term goals is to apply what is known about carnivores to develop measures of reducing and eventually eliminating predator conflict. BCPT is an umbrella program which includes various projects.
Click on the logo (our umbrella program) below to learn more about our various projects.
Our project also aims at improving public awareness concerning predator conservation and management. Young school children are our major target as they are future scientists and conservationists.
Pictures below show Wildlife Club children observing mongooses at our research camp. Last year, these potential future scientists had a chance to visit our camp and witness the reality of field research.
Above : Dinning at the camp
A resident pack of dwarf mongooses spice our days at our research camp. This pack (of at least 9 individuals) visits the camp regularly.
Livestock depredation by carnivores has a major impact on the livestock farming industry and has resulted in conflict with humans. The government of Botswana has made efforts to provide compensation for livestock losses due to predators. Regardless, most livestock owners continue to kill the perpetrators. A predator-livestock survey was conducted two years ago by some of our research colleagues and it was apparent that there is huge loss of livestock (people’s investment) due to carnivore depredation. The survey was focusing on the impact of carnivore species (with emphasis on lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyaena and African wild dog) on domestic livestock on neighboring farming areas.
How will we know status of the carnivore population in the country? Understanding their general ecology is crucial for their conservation. It is for this reason that the Botswana Predator Conservation Program (BPCP) research team works, in collaboration with the government of Botswana, in carnivore management by providing scientific information through extensive research. Monitoring carnivore numbers is difficult, time consuming and expensive. We are introducing the spoor count technique as the most effective and easy tool to assess carnivore distribution and population trends in Botswana. We have been conducting the spoor survey in various habitats of the Okavango area. The Large Carnivore Spoor Sampling (LCSC) project involves and collaborates with work of other participating researchers in the BPCP project. Continued monitoring of population will be important because severe predator conflict and their population decline can be identified and management strategies can be applied.
Carnivore conflict is a critical issue, therefore, predator conservation needs active involvement of the stake holders (communities, farmers, hunting safaris, tour operators, etc). It is our mission to sensitize and inform people, especially communities living close to the wildlife areas to be aware of the importance of large carnivore, and to advice them with solutions or provide management tools they may need to reduce the carnivore conflict. This is our future goal, but unfortunately our efforts are often limited due to financial constraints.
See www.bpctrust.org for more information on BPCP research projects
In the previous post I introduced our project, and gave a brief description of what we do. Now I would like to give you highlights of some carnivore conservation issues we’ve had before……
Monitoring carnivore numbers is crucial for their conservation and management. In order to implement appropriate wildlife management strategies and policies, information about ecology and population dynamics is a requirement. We rely on population trends to determine whether a species is threatened or endangered. Our mission is to assist in conservation of the remaining population of Botswana’s most persecuted large carnivore species and to maintain biodiversity in the Okavango region.
The five study species (Lions, Cheetah, Leopard, Wild dog and Spotted hyaena) are of great significance to Botswana for two main reasons: Firstly, they bring revenue to the country through Eco-tourism, and secondly, they suffer from persecution by farmers as they unintentionally prey on livestock. African wild dogs and the big cats are considered as the top tourist attraction animals in Botswana. Alongside that, livestock farming is one of the main ways people support themselves in the country. These are two contradicting issues that invite the attention of conservationists and need appropriate management strategy. What action must be taken in this scenario?
Last year one of our resident radio-collared pride male lion (named Rossi) was found dead near the veterinary fence. The fence divides wildlife and livestock grazing areas. We suspected poisoning as there was no sign of bodily damage. We have also lost a number of radio-collared wild dogs in the same manner in past few years. The question is how many of others have died without our knowledge? Our study area is bordered by cattle post on the southern side, and as a result, large carnivores occasionally extend their ranges to livestock grazing area. What is the appropriate action to be taken to in order to avoid the depreciation of large carnivores and reduce the loss of livestock at the same time? This is rather not a matter of action, but, a need for scientific and practical management approach.
Visit our blog for more updates and for more information about what our project is doing as a long term solution. For example, the significance of LCSC project.
A picture of a male lion “Dooan” who has taken over the pride after the death of Rossi.
Above is a picture of young male leopard tracks I enountered on the road when I was doing a transect for the spoor count survey.