Wildlife Research
 
Human-Predator Conflict

The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) in collaboration with the Oxford Wildlife Conservation Unit (WildCru) based in Hwange National Park, Main Camp have been liaising on a project together with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) and the local rural community near Victoria Falls.  Beginning in 2010 VFWT has been conducting a survey in the rural community in which a local researcher has been evaluating all human wildlife conflict incidents.  A 24 hour conflict hotline has been initiated with a response unit that deploys to reported conflicts in which the research team working together with ZPWMA respond to quantify any damage as well as to evaluate any mitigation techniques used to deter the animal.

In 2016 VFWT established the Community Guardian program, in which we employ local community members who are trained to protect community livestock and villages from wildlife and work to mitigate wildlife coming into the communities. The guardians track any collared animals and are able to pre-warn community members in advance of possible conflict. The Guardians utilize mitigation such as chili guns for crop raiding elephant and vuvuzelas with lions to aggressively move animals out of the rural villages.

A major component of this program involves hosting groups of school children at the VFWT fo facilities for a day of conservation awareness and interaction.  Every week throughout the school year VFWT host a group of school children from the area to learn about wildlife and interact with some of the wildlife ambassadors that VFWT currently looks after.  Each school is given training manuals for the teacher’s to use in the classroom which promotes wildlife conservation of a range of academic subjects for various ages.  It is the aim of this conservation program to decrease the number of animals being poached and poisoned, as well as to help children correctly identify wildlife species and to see the benefit of wildlife economically.   

A goal of this project is to determine the number of human-wildlife conflict incidents, species causing the conflicts, and to be able to quantify the amount of damage or impact caused from the conflicts.  Prey and predator densities will also be evaluated in the area. VFWT will soon be working with the community to improve some of the enclosures (bomas) that livestock are put in at night for protection. Predator proof bomas that can be moved can play an important economic role in protecting the animals at night from carnivores, as well as providing a high impact on the soil over short periods of time. This method has been shown to improve the viability of crops which most rural farmers depend of for their food supply.

VFWT would like to thank the Darwin Initiative for generously funding this project.


Community Guardians, GPS Training

Community Guardians Telemetry Tracking

Graph of Predator Species Responsible for Conflicts