Join Dr. Amy Dickamn, founder of the Ruaha Carnivore Project, for her lecture, “Good News for Lions” at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for the start of the 2015-2016 Speaker Series, on Thursday, October 15 at 5:45 p.m.
In Tanzania, where human development and wildlife are in a constant state of pressure, nature is often beat out by human interest. This was certainly prevalent in the hunting and killing of lions, where they are often seen as a menace to livestock, and/or sought after by big game hunters. Spurred by an unprecedented amount of lion killings, Amy Dickman founded the Ruaha Carnivore Project in 2009 in the remote Ruaha landscape in central Tanzania. Part of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the project is located in one of the most important large carnivore regions in Africa, the Ruaha National Park—Tanzania’s largest—supporting nearly 10 percent of lions left in the wild in Africa, as well as a vital habitat for cheetahs and African wild dogs.
Dickman and her team worked with local people near Ruaha National Park to help appease the human-carnivore conflict. Naturally, large carnivores target livestock for food, causing substantial depredation to the local villagers, who would then target carnivores to protect their herds. The Ruaha Carnivore Project’s main goal was to reduce this conflict by reducing the cost the carnivores pose to the people by creating strategies to protect their livestock—these strategies include the use of dogs, herders, early-warning systems, noisemakers, and scarecrows among others—training the villagers on how to enact these practices, and fortifying and developing more effective enclosures for livestock. The project also aimed to reverse the cost of large carnivores on village land from a detriment to a bonus by focusing on education. Partnering with Kids 4 Cats, local village schools are partnered with international schools, which help them acquire important school materials and books, while the Simba Scholarships enables students to obtain full scholarships through secondary school. By working with the villagers, engaging with their cultural traditions rather than dictating, the number of carnivore killings dropped drastically. Since 2009, with the help of the Ruaha Carnivore Project, the killings dropped by 80 percent in the study area in five years. These successes are now being transformed into actionable practices, expanding beyond the core study region with the hopes of impacting the vitally important Ruaha landscape and the large carnivores that call it home.
Dr. Amy Dickman will join the Naples Zoo for its Speaker Series to discuss her work in the Ruaha, how the Naples Zoo has helped in her conservation efforts, and a few memorable tales from the bush that will enlighten, as well as inspire. Gates open at 5:45 p.m. to mingle around the zoo’s lions. Dickman’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m.
- Admission costs $10. Reservations are requested call 239-262-5409 ext. 122 to RSVP. For more information, visit napleszoo.org.