The Maasai steppe region of northern Tanzania forms one of the four major areas harbouring viable populations of both these species making it a priority area in which to concentrate our conservation work.
Unfortunately though here is an all too familiar story of human settlements encroaching on the territory of wild carnivores, resulting in conflict. Each year, up to a fifth of all lion deaths in the area are as a result of retaliatory killings. This is unsustainable and unacceptable so something must be done before matters get even worse.
PTES is funding The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to address this ongoing battle between the local communities and the wild carnivores and so far they are making great strides. Firstly the team are collecting as much information as possible about the lion and the wild dog in the area so they can guide the management of the land and suggest suitable protection for their habitat.
They are also working closely with the pastoral communities in the Maasai steppe. As the wild carnivores prey on the domestic herds, the local communities feel duty bound to retaliate, killing lions and wild dogs indiscriminately. If predation of livestock can be reduced then so will the revenge killings. AWF have discovered that although improved livestock fencing can reduce predation at night, during daylight hours the herds are still very vulnerable and this accounts for more than half of the livestock losses. Clearly more diligence is needed when protecting the herds as they graze throughout the day but many adult male herders have moved away from the region for economic reasons, leaving the herding to the younger boys who are not as experienced. The conservation team are piloting a possible solution to this – collective herding. The community will graze their herds together so fewer herders with more experience are needed and more efficiently employed.
This important work, along with addressing local views on the wildlife they share their land with, will give these dogs and cats a fighting chance of survival.