Photograph by Gerry Ellis/Minden Pictures
Grantee: Matthew Becker
Wildlife ecologist Matthew Becker is CEO and program manager of the Zambian Carnivore Program (ZCP).
Wire-snare poaching is widespread and increasing in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, with significant impacts on lion populations through bycatch and prey depletion. In 2011, with a grant from the Big Cats Initiative, Becker and his team set out to combat lion snaring in the Luangwa through a combination of collaborative anti-snaring work, medical rescue of snared lions, and an applied research study of snaring patterns to inform anti-poaching and community conservation efforts. A second grant in 2012 funded the removal of 357 snares by a lion anti-snaring team in an area deemed highly dangerous. Snared lions decreased significantly during the study period, but teams still treated four snared lions, with a 100 percent recovery rate and no snaring bycatch mortality.
Rigorous investigations into snaring patterns revealed a strong correlation between snaring and rapidly increasing human development in the community game management areas. These areas are heavily trafficked by lions but have no management plan to prevent human encroachment. ZCP’s findings will be utilized by policymakers as Zambia undergoes rapid transitions in the management of community areas that contribute to the viability of Zambia’s big cat populations.
Nat Geo WILD presents a week dedicated to nature’s fiercest felines—big cats—creatures of magnificent strength, ferocity, and beauty that are rapidly facing extinction. With visually stunning and powerful stories from around the world, get closer than ever before to lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers, and more as you share in their triumphs, defeats, and epic struggles to survive.