project news

Where the Cats At?

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 10 May 2010


Anyone who follows our research closely will be aware of our endeavours to conserve an area vital for the migration of large mammals called the Ruipa Corridor, in Tanzania. In previous news updates we have described the efforts we are making to implement a sustainable management plan for the area. This is in response to concerns that vital biodiversity is being lost due to the recent increase in local farming activity. As well as the Darwin initiative, currently being funded by DEFRA, we are also keen to investigate the current trend of human-wildlife conflict in the surrounding areas. Our concerns for this topic were raised when we realised that the range of new farmland was creeping deeper and deeper into natural habitat.

Although the incidents between wild animals and local farmers is by no means uncommon, the increased push for fertile land in the Kilombero Valley seems to have led to an increase in the frequency of these events. This is of course of huge concern to our research teams. Accordingly our team in the field set out to determine the incidence of these accounts.

The main aim was to investigate the abundance and diversity of scavenger-carnivores within close proximity to the new farmland being developed. By identifying the abundance and diversity of these animals, we were able to identify whether there was greater pressure on the ecosystem due to increase human interference than previously thought. The team set up bait stations with increasing distances from human settlements, to monitor the disturbance human activity has on carnivore habitat. As you would expect, the bait stations further away from human settlements had a greater abundance and diversity of predators, compared to stations closer to human settlements.

Unfortunately there were no signs or tracks from large key-stone species, such as lions or cheetah, found when we conducted these investigations. Although this does not bode well for the future of the Ruipa Corridor, these results must not deter us from our task in conserving this vital area of migration. We believe that with the help of our hardworking staff, local initiative and enthusiastic volunteers, we will be able to encourage a healthy and more biodiverse ecosystem.

Ed Cremin and Hannah Burton

Read more about our Tanzania African Wildlife Conservation Adventure