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Saving Africa’s Big Cats

Saving Africa’s Big Cats

Saving Africa’s Big Cats

Populations of large carnivores like lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs, are declining across all of Africa. Lions in particular have suffered due to poaching, unintentional snaring, and retaliation for livestock predation. As a result, the lion population has declined by nearly 50% across Africa since the 1990s. If these declines are not reversed, many African carnivores may face extinction. The Zoo supports conservation efforts in numerous key sites for carnivore conservation across Africa, including implementing SMART anti-poaching programs, to help protect these species and the national parks on which they depend. 

Conserving Carnivores Across Southern Africa

Since 2014, we have worked with our partner, Panthera, to support anti-poaching work in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia in areas critical for the survival of lions, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and other carnivores. Improving conservation law enforcement is essential because carnivores in the region are under unprecedented pressure from both poaching, and reductions in prey populations.

To date, we have set up SMART-based monitoring systems and trained staff in 14 protected areas across the region. Improved training and monitoring has resulted in both increased motivation of rangers and greater success protecting wildlife, which has prompted the national governments of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to adopt SMART as their official monitoring system across all their protected areas.

Saving Some of West Africa’s Last Lions

The range of West African lions has been reduced by 99% and only 500 individuals remain in the wild. The Zoo also works with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Nigeria to protect Yankari Game Reserve, home to Nigeria’s last population of lions and elephants, in addition to other wildlife. The Zoo helped implement SMART in Yankari, which has improved anti-poaching strategies and contributed to no poached elephants in Yankari since May 2015. These improved anti-poaching patrols are benefiting all wildlife, and populations of many other large mammals at Yankari are now recovering.

Partners: Conservation Lower Zambezi, Conservation South Luangwa, Game Rangers International, Nigeria National Parks Service, Painted Dog Conservation, Panthera, Wildlife Conservation Society