Rare Species Fund Supports Niassa Lion Project in Mozambique

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The RSF recently awarded additional support to the Niassa Lion Project which seeks to mitigate human-carnivore conflict.

GPS tracking of lions leads researchers to the cubs

lion cubs at the Niassa Reserve

Niassa Lion Project conserves lion, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog by promoting coexistence between carnivores and people and directly mitigating threats

The Rare Species Fund (RSF) is supporting the Niassa Lion Project, a critically important protection and research effort being conducted in Mozambique’s Niassa National Reserve. An estimated 800 to 1000 lions live in the Reserve, as well as populations of leopards, and wild dogs. The Niassa National Reserve is considered one of the most undeveloped places in Africa and holds nearly a third of Mozambique’s lion population. The great cats are at high risk of inadvertent killing by snares and poison, as well as retaliatory killing for human/lion conflict.

The RSF was established by The Institute Of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) and is co-managed by the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF). The RSF recently awarded additional support to the Niassa Lion Project which seeks to mitigate human-carnivore conflict.

The Niassa Lion Project biodiversity surveys, targeted research, and serological analysis established the Reserve as a lion conservation priority area. The Project consists of seven local staff from Niassa villages who receive on the job training in radio tracking, data entry, and GPS tracking. The Naissa Lion Project disperses toolkits with practical solutions to reduce lion/human conflicts. It has tested innovative living fences of Commiphora africana, which protects livestock from predation. The Project seeks to increase domestic meat sources and alternative incomes for local hunters, to reduce reliance on bushmeat snaring. The Project has also developed and implemented strict lion sport hunting regulations that set age limits, reducing the taking of underage lions by 75% since 2006.

Dr. Bhagavan Antle, animal behavior and training expert, built the T.I.G.E.R.S.Preserve in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and started the Rare Species Fund to support wildlife conservation worldwide. Dr. Antle believes the Niassa Lion Project offers sensible solutions that combine research, monitoring, outreach, education, mentoring and training, and says, “The RSF began working with the Project in 2011, and has recently granted additional support because the Niassa Lion Project conserves lion, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog by promoting coexistence between carnivores and people, and directly mitigating threats.”

Lions are found only in parts of southern and eastern Africa and in the southern part of the Sahara desert. Recent population estimates count as few as 23,000 to 40,000 of the big cats, potentially less than half the lion population of the early 1950’s. Lions provide substantial ecological, cultural and economic benefits to Niassa Reserve and Mozambique.

The Feline Conservation Federation is an international non-profit society of feline facility managers, handlers, researchers, and conservationists dedicated to the propagation and protection of wild felids. This self-regulating group of peers has an established group of professional members and inspected and accredited facilities. FCF certified instructors teach feline husbandry and wildlife conservation education courses around the country. FCF maintains the largest genetic resource of exotic felines in North America, making it a key source for ambassador felines used in conservation education. FCF awards funding from its Conservation Grants program and the co-managed Rare Species Fund, to field projects that protect wild felids in nature.

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