These guys (Raps, Kenneth, Stallen and Pro) weave the lion-proof kraals that protect livestock from lion attacks!
Capture team— Pro Tomeletso, Andrew Stein and Eric LeFlore, and Jessica Wilmot (not pictured Erik Verreynne) —collaring the third lion in the project.
Pro Tomeletso investigating a lion kill. Community members state that lions cause a significant portion of cattle deaths, so it is important to understand and record each case to help reduce them.
Pro and Andrew Setting Camera Traps
Pro recording a conflict report with a villagr
Herder with his flock
Traditional herders are the keepers of healthy rangeland systems and protectors of livestock.
Pro and Flo pumping water in Eretsha
The Herders of Eretsha Communal Herd!
Herding team with the lion-proof enclosure
Dr. Keoikantse Sianga tracking lions
Pride in Our Prides aims to bridge the long-standing gap between wildlife conservation and needs of local people.
Lions are an icon of the Africa savanna, yet recent surveys show drastic declines in their populations across the continent. People fear living with lions and potential losses to livestock. As human populations expand, the range of lions and their prey have declined, leaving remnant, isolated populations with increased risk of inbreeding. In southern Africa, one large continuous population still roams across the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), an area which expands across five countries and multiple land use systems. Though lions are present, that does not mean that they are safe. Communities that experience high levels of conflict with lions may retaliate for livestock losses or attacks on humans by killing lions. Northern Botswana is located at the heart of KAZA, where lion populations show resilience in the face of high persecution. In recent years, villagers have set poison to indiscriminately kill all area lions including, juveniles and cubs. As a result, these poisoned baits often kill spotted hyenas, jackals, vultures and other species. Merely closing villager access to poison will not stop the problem, we must build a strong, inclusive program for exchanging ideas with villagers to increase coexistence. We believe that people are more inclined to care about things they know about and understand. When lions are given names and their individuality becomes apparent, people are more likely to want to protect them. However, we understand that lions are predators and will likely continue to kill livestock. Our program is designed to help direct non-lethal management practices at those individuals that are causing the most damage, thereby reducing the need for, and devastation caused by poison.
We have designed a two-pronged approach to reducing conflict and promoting lion conservation using TECH and TRADITION!
TECHNOLOGY: Though our community partners may live in homes made of mud and thatch, they all have cell phones. With colleagues from the University of Siegen, we have developed a first of its kind automated, adaptable alert system when collared lions approach livestock areas. We have over 100 participants that receive messages to their specific preferences (text or voice message) and language (Setswana or English) including the name and distance of the specific lion. Through this system, villagers who heeded the warnings have reduced their conflict by 50%.
TRADITION: Historically, pastoralist herders maintained healthy ecosystems and protected livestock from predation, but in the last generation they’ve lost their way. As unattended livestock wander the landscape they cause overgrazing, erosion and desertification while predators get an easy meal. We are resurrecting the traditional herder to reverse the impacts of overgrazing, reduce lion conflict and build capacity. In Eretsha Village, we have formed the first communal herd in Botswana including more than 80% of the village cattle (>1,000 head). We formed a community committee that creates rotational grazing plans and monitors the results and we’ve hired 6 certified herders to monitor livestock health and protect against predator attack. Area lodges have supported our initiative and shown interest in purchasing our “wildlife friendly” beef for their staff and guests at a premium price. Our goal is environmental and financial sustainability.