This page contains descriptions and links to a range of lion conservation management techniques, with case studies and examples. This includes human-lion conflict mitigation, trophy hunting, use of dogs, the SMART tool, law enforcement and protected area management.
Human-Lion Conflict Mitigation
Human-wildlife conflict is one of the most urgent and rapidly growing threats facing lion populations in Africa, with increasing human activity of growing rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa exacerbating conflict in recent years. The main reason for lion killings is in retaliation following killing of livestock, as well as injuring or killing of people. A number of tools exist that can help to prevent and mitigate conflict situations, as well as changing long-held negative perceptions about lions and other predators. More information can be found in the IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict Resource Library.
Human-Lion Conflict Toolkit (Niassa Carnivore Project & partners)
Toolkit compiled using collated experience of lion conservation projects across the region, including more than 30 tools for mitigating human-lion conflict (e.g. corrals, deterrents, behavior, community outreach/engagement) with basic details on how to use them as well as their relative effectiveness and cost. Includes a useful ‘decision tree’ which may help identify tools that would be most effective depending on the circumstances.
African People & Wildlife – Living Walls
African People & Wildlife (APW) partners with communities to build Living Walls, environmentally friendly corrals that keep livestock safe from lions. Members of the community sustainably harvest limbs of living Commiphora trees, then plant a circle of trees which serve as posts for chain-link fencing and add height to the wall as they grow. To date, more than 950 Living Walls have been built in northern Tanzania, preventing livestock attacks by large carnivores in 99% of instances.
© Jacques-André Dupont
Lion Alert - Visual deterrents
Light systems are installed on the perimeter of corrals, flashing in a pattern that mimics continuous human activity in order to confuse and scare away predators. Systems vary from home made to commercial, varying accordingly in price.
African People & Wildlife – Warriors for Wildlife
APW’s Warriors for Wildlife is a team comprised of community members that provides rapid response to human-wildlife conflict in northern Tanzania. The team reports from the field on livestock attacks and lion presence, helping to diffuse the situation and using an Open Data Kit system that transmits data in real time, meaning that field staff can be rapidly targeted to conflict hotspots when tensions are emerging. They also encourage a positive attitude towards lions and other large carnivores, helping communities to protect their livestock and see lions as part of a balanced ecosystem.
Education in schools – Ewaso Lions
Outreach and education of school children through inclusion of relevant information in curricula, leading to increased awareness of lion conservation-related issues and helping to prevent future human-wildlife conflict.
© Philipp Henschel
Trophy hunting is a divisive and controversial topic, with highly publicized cases of poorly conducted and poorly regulated hunting. However, legal and well-regulated hunting can provide benefits for conservation and the livelihoods of local communities if managed correctly and specifically to each region.
IUCN Briefing Paper - Informing decisions on trophy hunting
Lion fertility and cub survivability vary according to a range of factors, therefore ideally trophy hunting quotas would take into consideration population sizes, reproductive outputs, fertility and mortality. However, the required data is rarely available for all local populations, so quotas are commonly based on habitat sizes and modified according to any population data. Setting quotas requires an approach based on precaution, with continuous population surveillance.
Lion age and sex restrictions are strongly advised in order to prevent depletion of the gene pool, disruption of social structures and loss of a stable sex ratio. For example, age and sex restrictions have been in place in Tanzania since 2010 and prohibit hunting of all females and males under 6 years of age.
Sustainability of Lion Trophy Hunting in Tanzania Report (2017)
Best practices to manage hunting
The Trophy Hunting of African Lions: Scale, Current Management Practices and Factors Undermining Sustainability. Lindsey et al., 2013
In Tanzania, restrictions are enforced using assessment of hunt return forms and phenotypic characteristics of the animal. To enforce age restrictions, trophies from ≥6 year old lions are accepted with rewards, from 4 – 5 year old lions accepted with penalties and trophies from < 4 year old lions are rejected with deterrent penalties.
Comment on ESA status review of the African lion. Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania: Wildlife Division. (2012) © Vanessa Mignon
Use of Dogs
Watch / Herding dogs
Local dogs are used in pastures, corrals and homes as an early warning system to let people know when wild carnivores such as lions are present. However, dogs can themselves sometimes attract predators to livestock as they can be eaten by carnivores as prey.
Specially trained and bred dogs are also used to guard and gather herds back into corrals. Commonly used breeds include the Anatolian Shepherd or Kangal. Unlike herding dogs, they do not move the livestock away, which can sometimes trigger an attack.
Ruaha Carnivore Project – Guard dogs
SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) is a freely available software application that allows users to collect, store, communicate, and evaluate ranger-based data in order to improve effectiveness of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation activities. SMART is free to download here.
To use SMART, data is first manually collected by researchers in the field using GPS, maps, and personal data assistants. Importantly, data can still be collected and stored in offline areas. These data include:
- The location of patrol efforts
- Patrol outcomes (such as number of arrests, snares removed, guns confiscated);
- Illegal activities (such as poaching, logging, setting snares);
- Signs, behaviors and locations of key lion populations
This information is uploaded to SMART, which rapidly analyses the data and produces maps, graphs and automated reports.
An interactive map showing SMART partners in different countries and regions can be found here.
Case study: Implementing SMART in a Community Conservancy in Kenya for species including lions.
Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group
International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime
Interpol and UNEP joint Strategic Report on Environment, Peace and Security: A Convergence of Threats
Law enforcement projects, reports, and papers
Environmental crime curriculum for police and prosecutors in Africa launched in Uganda
In partnership with the Office of the Director of Pubic Prosecutions in Uganda, UNEP recently launched a sustainable training programme on environmental crime education in Entebbe, Uganda. The training, titled “Greening the Police and Criminal Prosecutorial Education in Africa”, aims to promote mainstreaming of environmental crime education into the curricula of law enforcement personnel, increasing their capacity to effectively deal with environmental crime.
Enforcement of environmental crime laws: A framework training manual for law enforcement agencies
A manual intended for national trainers on environmental crime in Eastern and Southern Africa. It seeks to enable such trainers to equip police officers and other actors involved in fighting environmental crimes with knowledge and understanding of the nature of environmental crimes, environmental inspection and investigation, and prosecution of environmental crimes.
Enforcement of Environmental Law: Good Practices from Africa, Central Asia, ASEAN Countries and China
© Jacques-André Dupont
Protected Area Management
The Peace Parks Foundation engage with governments to channel investment into and develop transboundary conservation areas (peace parks) across Africa.
These peace parks include:
The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park - measures 5 920 km² and comprises the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa. Following the formal establishment of the park, a Joint Management Board was appointed to govern the development of the Park. In 2011, this board approved the park’s integrated development plan and joint operations strategy. Collaboration between the Namibian and South African areas of the park include joint patrols for monitoring and law enforcement, joint research, managing joint assets and identifying and implementing cross-border tourism products. A border permit that allows officials from both countries to easily cross the border while on official duty within the boundaries of the park was introduced, as well as a joint radio network to ease communications between the Namibian and South African components of the park.
The Kavango Zambezi TFCA - situated in the Kavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It spans an area of approximately 520 000 km² and includes 36 proclaimed protected areas such as national parks, game reserves, forest reserves, community conservancies and game/wildlife management areas.
Toolkit and Training Kit
The Toolkit and Training Unit for lion conservation and management will be added here as soon as it is developed.
Awareness Raising and Education Toolkit
The Awareness Raising and Education Toolkit, containing awareness raising and education materials in English, French and Portuguese will be added here as soon as it is developed.