On 10 November 2017 Amy Dickman, Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Felid Conservation (the conservation of wild cats) at Oxford University, will be coming to talk to our Primary School students about conservation. Amy is involved in very interesting projects about the human-carnivore conflict, and this is a great opportunity for Primary students to learn about these.
Lions are one of Africa's flagship species, but their numbers have halved in the last 20 years, with around 20,000 remaining
The need for conservation is finally receiving a bit of the recognition it needs due to the unfortunate death of 'Cecil' the lion in Zimbabwe, which sparked an outcry and generated unprecedented passion for conserving this amazing species.
Amy, on the other hand, is not new to conservation. She has 20 years experience of working on large carnivores in African and founded the Ruaha Carnivore Project (www.ruahacarnivoreproject.com) in southern Tanzania in 2009.
The Ruaha landscape is one of the most important areas in the world for lions, leopards and cheetahs, but so far has been largely ignored by researchers, which makes it hard to develop conservation and management plans for this area. It has the highest rate of lion killing documented in East Africa, as lions and other carnivores impose high costs on poverty-stricken local people. The project focuses on reducing carnivore attacks, providing local communities with real benefits from carnivore presence, focusing particularly on improving local schools, clinics and access to veterinary medicine. This has been extremely difficult because of the remote location of the place and the initial hostility of the Barabaig, who are the secretive and little-known tribe responsible for most lion-killing.
Amy will come to share the huge progress the team has made so far: since 2011 carnivore attacks on stocks have been reduced by over 60 percent, people are recognizing real benefits from wildlife presence for the first time, and most importantly, lion killings have been reduced by over 80 percent.
The aim now is to continue to expand this work both around Ruaha and beyond, to generate long-term benefits both for carnivores and local communities. And ISH is a great place to start! Our students will be able to take that knowledge with them to wherever their journey takes them.