Research & Monitoring
We conduct targeted research to understand the threats to lions and other carnivores. We then pilot test solutions and carefully monitor whether they are successful or not before scaling them up with our Mozambican partners.
Villages in Niassa are changing rapidly, with increased road networks, communications (cell phones), and the growing aspirations of the people who live here. Continuous monitoring of our efforts -- adapting them as necessary -- is critical. We share all the data that we collect with the Reserve Management for their use. We collaborate with other carnivore projects in the region and share our results to prevent “re-inventing the wheel”. Our goal is not to do in-depth biological research on a species.
Long term monitoring of lion and leopard population
We have identified an intensive study area in the south eastern section of Niassa Reserve (Concession L5-South, 800 km2). Here we have been monitoring the leopard and lion populations since 2005. We identify individual animals in the intensive study area using visual cues and, whenever possible, we also radio collar them. We use radio collars and camera traps to understand lion movement patterns around the villages, to develop visual aging cues, and to monitor lion and leopard density, turnover, home range use, and mortality.
This research has revealed that snaring is the leading threat to lions and leopards in Niassa Reserve. We have also discovered the importance of the Lugenda River as a boundary. We've learned that there is an increase in lion movements in the village fields in the wet season, which increases the chance of attack. See our updates page for more details of our results.
Our work starts by asking simple questions. We use surveys to collect data from local communities about both human behaviors and threats from carnivores. By gathering and analyzing this information we identify challenges as well as possible solutions.
For example, we have collated a detailed database of all lion attacks on people and livestock across Niassa Reserve since 1970 in order to identify behaviors that make people and livestock vulnerable to attack. We have also conducted surveys on the relative importance of bush-meat compared to other protein sources, hunting techniques, the importance of the fishing industry as a source of income and protein, goat husbandry, and perceptions people have of different carnivores.
Larger scale monitoring
Using call-up surveys and camera traps, we assist the Reserve management authority by monitoring lion, spotted hyaena, and leopard density across the whole Reserve at 3-5 year intervals. Through this we can assess whether the carnivore populations are stable, increasing, or decreasing.
We do regular surveys of the domestic dog population inside the protected area to monitor disease risks. We also track carnivore attacks on people and livestock. We have partnered with the sport hunting operators to age and assess all lion, leopard, and spotted hyaena trophies taken in Niassa’s designated hunting concessions to ensure its sustainability. This monitoring helps us assess whether we are being successful and to adapt when necessary.