Wild At Life Project

Lion Collaring & Conservation

Activity status: Ongoing
Area of Activity: Matusadona National Park & Chizarira National Park, Zimbabwe

Lion conservation efforts have become increasingly important as the species continues to face threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict.

One tool that conservationists like us use to better understand lion behavior and protect them is collaring. Collars fitted with GPS and other tracking devices allow researchers to monitor lion movements and study their behavior in the wild. This information can help identify areas of importance for conservation, such as migration corridors and critical habitats.

Collaring also helps reduce human-wildlife conflict by enabling conservationists to track lion movements and alert nearby communities when lions are in the area. This can prevent unintentional human-lion encounters, reducing the risk of conflicts that could result in injury or death for both humans and lions. While collaring has proven to be a useful tool for lion conservation, it must be used ethically and responsibly to ensure the safety and well-being of the lions. The ultimate goal of collaring and other conservation efforts is to maintain healthy lion populations and ensure their survival for future generations.

Zimbabwe: Lions Conservation

Wild at Life e.V. has been working for more than a decade in Zimbabwe, mostly in the area of lion conservation. In order to monitor the lion population, individuals from various prides are collared with a satellite/VHF radio collar, and the movements of these prides are tracked.

Ground tracking using the VHF function is carried out tri-weekly so that data on individuals, kills, cub survival etc can be collected.

Wild at Life e.V. is present in Chizarira National Park – 2000 km2 worth of wilderness – for biodiversity research. The team led by Dr Norman Monks, in partnership with Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, and Wild at Life e.V.’s founder Asli, successfully collared a female lion, naming her “Asli”. Scientifically, she will be referred to lioness 2171 and we are monitoring her movements and as well as her pride members in the area.

This project is vital as it focuses on a vulnerable species and links to other lion studies in the Kavinga Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) which includes five countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

Matusadona: Lions Conservation

Under the Matusadona Lion Project, 11 lions amongst 5 prides have been collared since 2014. Data from the satellite collars has allowed the project to better understand the conservation status of lions in the area and recognised actions that must be taken to improve the populations’s viability.

A collar’s battery life lasts around two years and these collars must be replaced in order to effectively study lions and reduce human-lion conflict. The project is also seeking to collar more animals across the landscape to help identify the conservation threats they face.

Camera traps are an invaluable tool for the project, helping to monitor predator and prey populations and distribution, providing a unique insight into animal ecology and behaviour, as well as providing evidence against poachers.

The project is currently halfway through a large carnivore landscape survey – the first comprehensive survey aimed at identifying the abundance and distribution of large carnivores across the Sebungwe region, as well as investigating elephant distribution and poaching incidence, which are information critically important in guiding effective conservation programs. Sadly, 13 cameras were stolen by poachers during the survey which hindered the continuation and progress of the survey.

At the centre of our work is Matusadona National Park, a roughly 1400km2-wilderness found in the heart of the Sebungwe landscape of North-Western Zimbabwe. It forms an integral part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) and the Middle Zambezi UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Matusadona National Park hosts 48 mammal species along the shores of the world’s largest man-made lake – Lake Kariba.

Matusadona National Park is characterised by a sprawling floodplain of Panicum grass and endless Mopane shrubland across its valley floor before giving way to a larger, remote and rugged escarpment area covered with pristine Miombo woodland. The park is a designated Intensive Protection Zone for Black Rhino and was home to the famous ‘Chura Bull’ elephant – Zimbabwe’s biggest tusker, whose genes can still be seen amongst the current elephant generation and largest remaining elephant population of the Sebungwe region. It also once held Africa’s second-highest density of lions and witnessed a successful introduction of cheetah in the 1990s.

Sadly, these species have dramatically declined over the last two decades and are in need of dedicated conservation efforts. Matusadona National Park was also the home of the famous “Operation Noah” wildlife rescue operation in 1958 where over 6000 animals were rescued from rising lake water levels by the late Rupert Fothergill.

Together we can do better

If you want to be involved in such important missions to safeguard the lion population, consider donating. The lion population has declined since 1994, the original release year of the Disney Lion King movie.

 
Update: May 10, 2023

C8 – Inscroyables Amities

A documentary by C8, a French TV channel, featured Wild at Life e.V.’s lion conservation efforts in Zimbabwe as well as Asli Han Gedik’s amazing relationship with the lions.

45:22 – 1:01:56 is where Wild at Life e.V. appears. The documentary is in French.

Update: April 10, 2023

Asli the Lioness

Asli the lioness was recently spotted with her cubs.

This project is carried out in the following activity areas

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