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Nature and claws help ease human-lion conflict in the Okavango Delta

In partnership with local Botswana non-profit CLAWS Conservancy (Communities Living Sustainably Among Wildlife), Wilderness continues to make a positive impact to help reduce human-wildlife conflict in the Okavango areas. Community Trust (OCT) neighboring Wilderness Vumbura Plains.

“Closely aligned with our Protect Impact strategic pillar and our commitment to do more to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in OCT community areas, we are proud to be working closely with CLAWS in this region and seeing the positive results.” of our collective conservation efforts over the past six months. By offering both logistical and physical presence, as well as additional monitoring and collaring when necessary, we have helped CLAWS further refine and improve its work in conflict mitigation by encouraging coexistence and expanding its early warning,” Wesley said. Hartmann, a nature conservation ecologist from Botswana.

CLAWS Lion Program Coordinator Virginia Pelayo Malet added that this work is essential due to the significant decline in lion populations over the last 25 years. “The initiative focuses on the development of a first-of-its-kind lion warning system, which aims to mitigate conflicts between lions and humans by providing real-time warnings to farmers when satellite-collared lions approach. Our Lion Response Team (LRT), supported by village volunteers, can intercept lions, using deterrents to encourage them to retreat to safer areas,” she said.

Important impact and outcome measurements from the first six months of implementation (October 2023 – March 2024) have highlighted a significant increase in the proportion of alerts attended to, the number of conflicts avoided and the total distance lions moved away; demonstrating a positive impact in mitigating human-lion conflict and reducing lion mortality. The number of known lions in the study area has also increased, likely due to a better understanding of lion groups and composition in the area in these early stages of implementation. Additionally, more than 300 people have signed up to receive alerts, and more than 78 alerts were distributed in the first six months since Wilderness support began.

“While we have increased the number of collared lions and growth in the Lion Alert System user base, we have noticed a decrease in volunteer participation and still face some challenges regarding data collection, network accessibility and the availability of deterrent equipment, which will now form part of our improvement plan in the future,” Wesley added.

The Okavango region of northern Botswana is central to the largest lion stronghold in southern Africa and a key region for connectivity between other regional lion populations within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) . However, villagers living along the northern edge of the Okavango struggle with continued predation of their livestock by lions and, in some cases, have killed entire prides of lions in retaliation. In African landscapes, lion populations have declined by a staggering 50% in the past 25 years, due to conflict with humans and habitat loss.

“Our CLAWS partnership continues to demonstrate clear results that we hope to achieve here to not only empower farmers to increase commercial sales of their meat product, but also to provide the tools and training necessary to improve coexistence between farmers and local populations. of lions Through our continued support of CLAWS research and field work, we hope to proactively implement interventions to ensure the viability of lion populations in the North Okavango and, in particular, our Vumbura Concession,” Wesley concluded.

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