Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably
The lion project, CLAWS – its Delta Research Centre sponsored by Okavango Elephant Camp – has seen great success. CLAWS specialises in protecting both predators and livestock, reducing human-wildlife conflict.
If you are lucky enough you may just get invited to join Team CLAWS, in their lion project initiative. This research centre is stationed at Okavango Elephant Camp. Watch the khaki clad professionals monitor and protect lions and their prides, by means of a satellite collar, a pioneering Herding Progamme with its fully automated Lion Alert System, with its defined purpose in protecting both predators and livestock, reducing previous human-wildlife conflict.
Each collared lion is named by the local community and fitted with a satellite collar that sends text alerts to villagers when the lions approach.
Not only does this initiative protect the lions, it protects their habitats and neighbouring village communities.
Stand in awe and observe Team CLAWS at work.
And, if it is written in the stars, and you are up to an adrenaline filled activity, you may be invited to join
the Team, as they venture into the vast concession as the night falls, to track and locate the lion pride.
The lions health is kept closely monitored, ensuring a holistic approach to this initiative. The veterinary team will dart the lion, and quickly conclude their diagnostic process.
After their work is done, the team watch over the lion until it has woken up completely, ensuring its safety.
Though lions are present, that does not mean that they are safe.
Unattended livestock that moves into wildlife areas cause overgrazing, erosion and desertification while predators are at risk of being persecuted for going after cattle for food. This is where Claws Conservancy, based at Okavango Elephant Camp, plays an integral part in protecting both lions and livestock by resurrecting the traditional herder to reverse the impacts of overgrazing and reduce lion conflict.
In partnership with the local communities, they formed the first communal herd in Botswana with 6 certified herders (and their amazing guard dogs) to protect livestock and prevent over-grazing. So everyone benefits: the community, the lion prides and the environment.
The project has been a resounding success thus far with a growth in lion populations, and the community’s cattle protected. Our herders have literally chased lions away from the cattle!
In the past, the villagers tried to poison the lions suspected of killing livestock. But poison is indiscriminate and kills a wide range of predators and birds of prey. When a lion is collared, we track its movements and it allows us to alert the herders and community. We also assist in building ‘kraals’ (an enclosure where cattle spends the night) and monitor herd health. We have build 20 kraals and no loss of livestock has occurred.
The key to conserving large predators is working with local communities to reduce livestock conflict. In our study area in Northern Botswana, traditional herders are an essential ingredient for reversing the impacts of overgrazing, desertification, livestock health, reducing losses to predators and promote self sufficiency. Thereby conserving lions. In recent generations culture has shifted away from effective herding.
In Eretsha Village, they have formed the first communal herd in Botswana including more than 80% of the village cattle (>1,000 head) and formed a community committee that creates rotational grazing plans and monitors the results.
They’ve also hired 6 certified herders (and their magnificent dogs) to monitor livestock health and protect against predator attack.
With a herd of 740 cattle so far, it’s a lot of work for our 6 herders to manage but they are doing extremely well. Herding is key to environmental health of this ecosystem and also protects livestock from lion attack. Our herders have literally chased lions away from the cattle! Through our program Pride in Our Prides, we hosted the first ever herder training course in Botswana to “resurrect” the traditional herder!
The success of our #PrideInOurPrides program is largely in part due to our belief in people. We believed that when people knew more about what they didn’t understand, that they would care and change. We were right.
BE PART OF THIS INITIATIVE. JOIN US AT OKAVANGO ELEPHANT CAMP.
We can guarantee after experiencing this once-in-a-life time activity, you will be so inspired, you will want to adopt one of their newly collared lions. Through this symbolic adoption, you will be supporting their conservation initiative in Botswana, and in the further research into refining the satellite collar to be as non-invasive as possible.
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