The carnivores of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) are facing a population crisis, primarily due to their close proximity to human settlements. The large territorial ranges of most predators (as well as their protein-based diet) mean that they often compete with humans for space and food.
An analysis of the cause of death of carnivores in the northern sector of QENP from 2006 to 2012 showed that ~70% of the known carnivore deaths were a result of anthropogenic (human-caused) factors. Poisoning is the biggest culprit by far, which has resulted in the deaths of a high number of carnivores over the years. Between 2006 and 2012, at least 96 carnivores died of poisoning (see data table below).
You can explore the range of lions in Uganda and the rest of Africa at the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species Interactive Map website or at National Geographic’s MapMaker Interactive website.
We radio-collar certain lions, leopards, and hyenas in the park in order to monitor their movements, territories, risky encounters, and, particularly, their incursions into conflict “hot zones,” where they face the danger of encounters with people and their livestock.
Through conservation initiatives, continued research, and education related to our community-based conservation work, UCP is making strides to minimize human-carnivore conflict while fostering coexistence between people and the carnivores they share their homes with. Furthermore, we want to see local people more involved in carnivore conservation efforts. By working alongside local farmers, fishing communities, and schools, we hope that the communities will see wildlife as creatures under their care.
The bottom line is that human-carnivore conflict is a very complex challenge with no easy answers. Taking this into account, short-term solutions rarely, if ever, work. Any solution usually comes with a trade-off, and any good solution often takes time to implement. Thus far, we have seen plenty of success related to initiated programs that are sustainable, locally adopted, and inclusive. Though challenges remain, we remain hopeful that our work will result in coexistence between people and carnivores.
We will share with you as our progress continues. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates.