Zambia - 27/10/2021
Say Hello to Musekese Conservation!
Greetings from Musekese Conservation! My name is Will Donald, I am the research coordinator for Musekese Conservation and we are incredibly excited to be partnering with NatureSpy for our camera trap studies. I would love to take this opportunity to tell you all about the where we are based and the work we conduct!

Musekese Conservation camera trap leopard - Filtered

Guest blog by Will Donald, Research Coordinator – Musekese Conservation

Musekese Conservation (MC) is providing support to Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to secure core populations of large carnivores and herbivores from poaching within the Kafue National Park (KNP), Zambia. KNP is one of the largest national parks in the world. It spans, 22,400km2 – an area larger than Wales!

Size comparison between Kafue & Wales

MC is operating within this greater landscape to secure one of five intensive protection zones (IPZ) that cover prime habitat for big cats – the Musekese-Lumbeya (ML IPZ), which is approximately 2,700 km2 in extent, some 12% of the KNP. For a size comparison, this is approximately the same size as the Lake District National Park in the UK.

The Musekese-Lumbeya has historically been a hotspot for poaching with limited access for anti-poaching teams and a severe lack of resources to control illegal activities; pressure from adjacent communities has not been adequately managed and snaring for bush-meat has taken its toll on large carnivores and their prey. MC has for the past three years has supported four DNPW patrol teams that spend all year patrolling the ML IPZ protecting the landscape in any way they can, by catching poachers, destroying poacher camps, and removing wire-snares laid by poachers that are used to trap animals for bushmeat.

Musekese Conservation Rangers

The presence of anti-poaching teams and the facilitation of their deployments has had a noticeable impact over the past three years; in 2017/18 there were at least 10 large carnivores known to have been killed in snares (8 lions, 1 x wild dog, 1 x hyena), whilst in 2019 and 2020 only one predator was snared (a leopard), and we managed to remove the snare. We have seen a noticeable increase in game populations just from driving around the ML IPZ, and we also have a strong lion pride and two painted dog packs that are living safely in our core area.

Muskese Conservation Lion

Whilst we have seen an increase in game and predators, we have no robust evidence for this. And that is where our partnership with NatureSpy comes in. In 2020, MC set up a research programme which has been created in order to find out how many carnivores and herbivores actually live in the ML IPZ, the factors that affect where they live, and whether or not our anti-poaching patrols have had a positive impact on their population sizes. Over the next 5 years, we will be placing camera traps provided by NatureSpy across the ML IPZ to record valuable information on the distribution and abundance of large carnivores and herbivores. We had a couple of Browning’s in the field last year that were used as a ‘first assessment’ and we found some really awesome sightings. Have a look at the photos below!

We are incredibly excited to get started with our camera trap deployments. We will have them out in the field between June and November, and hopefully we will be able to get some really awesome data and photos from them. We look forward to sending you some updates soon!

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