Photograph courtesy Ruaha Carnivore Project

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Where: Tanzania

Grantee: Amy Dickman

Ruaha Carnivore Project Director Amy Dickman aims to lessen human-big cat conflict.

The Ruaha Carnivore Project is part of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) within Oxford University's Zoology Department. It works in partnership with Tanzanian organizations such as the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and national parks.

Conflict with humans is a critical threat currently facing wild populations of lions and cheetahs, and it is imperative to effectively mitigate conflict in areas where these species still have a chance of long-term persistence. Tanzania is a globally important area for lions, cheetahs, and other big cats, with its Ruaha landscape highlighted as a particularly high-priority region. Research revealed intense human-big cat conflict around Ruaha: In just three villages, nearly 25 lions have been killed in under a year. This conflict is complex, driven by livestock depredation, little knowledge about big cats, and limited value placed on big cats' lives.

The Ruaha Carnivore Project has made significant headway in reducing conflict in ten target villages, training local villagers as conflict officers to help empower other people to reduce depredation, providing education about big cats and livestock protection, and providing community. The program has been incredibly successful, resulting in reduced depredation and conflict.

Dickman's project aims to continue this work and expand it by employing conflict officers in 15 villages, working with conservationist Laly Lichtenfeld to build 50 lion-proof livestock enclosures, trying out low-cost "boma bells" (which provide early warning of predator presence), and extending education and community-benefit initiatives. The project is confident that these measures will further reduce human-big cat conflict in the critically important Ruaha area, with important benefits for long-term lion and cheetah conservation.

Picture of a cheetah taken by a camera trap
Camera trap photograph of a cheetah. Photograph courtesy Ruaha Carnivore Project

The Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) has awarded its first six Simba Scholarships to pastoralist children in the area. Simba Scholarships are four-year scholarships to secondary boarding schools that cover all costs, including books, uniforms, and mattresses.

Unlike in the Serengeti area, villagers who live just outside Ruaha National Park see few tangible benefits and instead suffer consequences—mostly livestock lost to lions and hyenas. To address this, the RCP surveyed area residents about what they want and need, and found that easier access to quality education was near the top of the list.


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Ruaha Carnivore Project

The Ruaha Carnivore Project works together with local communities and the Tanzanian authorities to develop effective conservation strategies for large carnivores in the globally important Ruaha landscape.


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