Debshan Research Project
This project seeks to carry out a fine scale assessment of the ecology and conservation of four of Africa’s largest carnivores on a privately owned game and livestock ranch. Many top-order predators have been extirpated from private land because of the perceptions that they deplete herbivore species and predate on livestock and this has had a negative influence on the population of large carnivores and their conservation on ranches and conservancies.
Conservation initiatives aimed at reducing costs or creating benefits from having predators represent the most direct way to improve attitudes towards large carnivores on private land. Large carnivores such as leopards, cheetahs and hyenas are umbrella species and their protection would lead to the conservation of many other wildlife species and preservation of the whole landscape. Predator research in Zimbabwe is still predominantly carried out in national parks, however private land can potentially provide suitable habitat for their conservation therefore it is essential to increase research in these landscapes so as to come up with practical solutions to conservation problems.
This project is implementing a HWC mitigation strategy against livestock predation by hyenas and lions. The overall objective is to restore depleted wildlife populations that once significantly benefited communities in the Sebungwe landscape of north western Zimbabwe. In human dominated landscapes coexistence between humans and wildlife can only be achieved when loss of human life and livelihoods (crops and livestock) to wildlife is reduced. One of the focus of our project is to build the capacity of the local communities to protect and coexist with wildlife while protecting and improving their livelihoods.
The project is specifically addressing human-carnivore mitigation through provision of predator proof cattle bomas and reinforcement of existing conventional livestock kraals. The project has also recruited and trained Community Guardians who report and respond to human-wildlife conflict incidences and assist with monitoring the movement of predators and other wildlife in collaboration with other stakeholders.