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One of our successful conservation efforts takes place in the Kwando Wildlife Dispersal Area: a pivotal space of connectivity for lions between Angola, Botswana, and Zambia in the heart of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). Between 2012 and 2013 there was a dangerous drop in the area’s lion populations due to retaliatory killings from community members who lost livestock to these big cats. In those two years alone at least 17 lions were killed.

 

Since 2014, we’ve partnered with NGOs, such as the Kwando Carnivore Project, to encourage co-existence between cats and communities. This includes increasing local tolerance and appreciation for lions, protecting livestock by creating permanent and portable corrals, and preventing poaching.

 

Our efforts were rewarded as the lion population of this region has experienced its own rebirth to pre-2013 levels!

• Only two lions were killed in retaliation between 2017 and 2018: a 95% reduction

• 130 lion-proof corrals were built and we introduced a new mobile version

• Overall, we’ve witnessed an ~80% reduction in the number of cattle killed by lions

• We have employed a human-lion conflict coordinator and continued to support local conservancy game guards

© PAUL FUNSTON/PANTHERA

Members of the region’s prides, such as the Horseshoe Pride here, have yet to fully come together.

Despite this increase in the number of lions, the area’s cats are still struggling. Single lionesses must raise two, three, and even four cubs on their own instead of having the support of a fully-formed pride. These mothers must protect their babies from predators while hunting enough to nourish the entire family. Since the region’s lion population is still low overall, these individuals are missing the critical social cues needed for them to form normal prides. Instead, they’re living disjointed lives, creating a situation that is dangerous for the survival of these isolated mothers and their cubs.