Northern Botswana Summer Field Trip

Courtesy of Andrew Stein

Post submitted by Andrew Stein

Northern Botswana provides critical habitat for one of the largest remaining intact populations of wild lions in the world, yet regional conflicts between villagers and lions have threaten its viability. Recent poisoning events have indiscriminately targeted lions and killed spotted hyenas, jackals and vultures as well. The ‘Pride In Our Prides’ initiative was established in August of 2014 to learn about the key drivers of this conflict and address those drivers with support from the community. After administering an extensive questionnaire to over 200 households in the region, we started working on the issues of livestock husbandry and indiscriminate killing with support from National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative.

In May of 2015 our team started construction of lion-proof kraals (corrals). These kraals are constructed from local, natural materials using the weaving skills that villagers have perfected over generations. The kraals serve the dual purpose of keeping predators from entering the kraals, but also keeping livestock from bursting out when they hear lions roaring nearby. To date, we have constructed and dedicated 3 kraals in 3 different villages, providing temporary employment and an example to villagers for future kraals.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Stein

In mid-August, we set out to dart and collar 5 lions with satellite tracking collars. On day one, we traveled northeast from Seronga to Eretsha to inspect a reported lion kill. It was dead cow with clear lion tracks around it, claw punctures, signs of trauma around the neck and some feeding on the hind quarters. There was little doubt that lions were here recently, so we camped out nearby in hopes of darting and collaring one of these individuals for the study. In the morning, we saw no new sign of lions, so they must have moved on. We decided to head to the —> Read More