A picture can say a thousand words, but when the picture is missing, words can still be used to create a vision for one. During the past few weeks, the camera traps for the human wildlife conflict project in Zimbabwe’s Matetsi Conservancy did not manage to capture images of any lions, or indeed any other predators, that might have visited the kraals with flashing light predator deterrents installed. However, the cooperation of the village members and the constant visits to these homesteads has made it possible for us to keep up with the progress of the project and incidences that might be taking place.
The homestead owners keep diaries to document the activities of lions and other predators around homesteads. These diaries assist in making sure that there won’t be any incidences that are not reported and documented. The homesteaders welcomed this initiative, as they also mentioned that sometimes they would hear the lions nearby during the night but that these lions don’t always come close to where the cameras are.
Diaries are also being used at the control group of homesteads that do not have the lights. This is also going to provide baseline data for evaluating the effectiveness of using flashing lights to deter lions from kraals at night as a way of mitigating the human lion conflict within rural communities in Zimbabwe.
During the months of May and June, a total of two lion visits to homesteads with LED lights were reported and on both visits, the lions did not attack any livestock.
About the human / lion conflict mitigation project
Coventry University, in partnership with ALERT and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, have funded an initiative to help rural farmers in the Matetsi Environmental Conservation Area (ECA) of Zimbabwe protect their livestock against attacks by wild lions and other large predators. This Matetsi ECA is an area being managed under the Community Based Natural Resources Management programme, which encourages communities to sustainably manage wildlife resources found within their areas. ALERT has been working with Dr. James Bennett, an expert in livestock husbandry practices from Coventry University, the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, and affected communities to install flashing lights on kraals located within conflict hotspot areas, alongside camera traps to assess the effectiveness of the lights. This exercise builds upon the original idea by Richard Turere, who invented the flashing light system to guard against lion raids on livestock in Kenya.