Tanzania holds some of the most important large carnivore populations in Africa, harbouring, for example, an estimated 25% of the world’s remaining lions, 27% of its wild dogs and 9% of its cheetah. However, these populations, many of which occur outside protected areas, face growing threats including direct conflict with rural communities and illegal wildlife trade. As top predators, large carnivores play key roles in the maintenance of Tanzania’s unique ecosystems. They also contribute substantially to national revenue as a major draw for tourism, which contributed more than US$1billion in national revenues in 2008. The Tanzania Carnivore Program was established in 2002 with the overall goal to ensure sustainable conservation of Tanzania’s carnivore populations. Over more than 10 years of operation, it has established lasting capacity within Tanzanian institutions for carnivore research and conservation. It has also established the first national database on carnivores in the country, which now has more than 15,000 records, many from camera trap surveys, and has been used to develop a national conservation action plan for carnivores.
The project has 5 specific aims:
1. Develop and strengthen national capacity for carnivore conservation in Tanzania.
2. Reduce direct threats to large carnivores from conflict and illegal trade.
3. Understand and prioritise corridors to maintain large carnivore movements and mitigate against habitat fragmentation.
4. Establish baseline carnivore biodiversity in important wildlife areas.
5. Maintain the long term study of cheetah in the southern Serengeti, and gather conservation relevant information to better ensure the survival of this species.
The overall program developed out of a long term research project in the Serengeti on cheetahs, which is the longest ongoing study of wild cheetah, and has contributed much of what we know about cheetah in the wild. Maintaining and increasing capacity for carnivore conservation amongst Tanzanians is key to all activities.
The program is supported by the Zoological Society of London
and Wildlife Conservation Society
and the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.
Visit the Tanzania Carnivore Program website>