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Last of the Lion Kings

In December, thanks to the generous donations from our loyal supporters, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) raised over £30,000 in our Big Give Match Funded Appeal ‘Last of the Lion Kings’. 

These funds have already been making a significant difference to the lives of Ugandan lions and to support rangers across Africa on the frontline of conservation.  

In Uganda, less than 200 lions remain. DSWF works tirelessly with ground-based conservation partners in the Murchison Falls National Park to protect one of the last populations of Uganda’s lions, which are at high risk from poaching, snares, and human-wildlife conflict. 

Thanks to funds raised in this appeal, two mobile anti-poaching ranger units have been supported and maintained within the national park. The units rotate weekly to patrol vulnerable areas to aid in the recovery of key prey and predator species. The unit’s continual presence is having a proven effect on disrupting poaching gangs and ensuring minimal loss of wildlife. 

Permanent anti-poaching snare removal teams within the two key regions of the Murchison Falls National Park, have been stationed and trained to conduct daily de-snaring patrols. Snares continue to be one of the biggest threats to Ugandan lions, their prey, and many other species of wildlife. In a recent patrol 104 snares were collected in just four hours. 

Image Credit: Uganda Conservation Foundation.

Rangers continue to monitor and track lions within the park. Three lions have been collared in recent months with more collaring activities planned. Collared lions can be GPS tracked by rangers in real time using specialist Earth Ranger technology, which aids long term conservation planning, including ranger patrol routes. The collars also act as a deterrent to poachers, providing an extra level of protection to lions residing in the park as well as valuable data for research. 

Communication is an integral part in mitigating wildlife crime. As such, DSWF funding has been used to provide 50 rangers with digital radios to increase communication channels between teams, to aid in the team’s protection and ensure intelligence on wildlife crimes can be shared immediately – enhancing law enforcement effectiveness resulting in an increase in poacher arrests. 

The community ranger programme and community Quick Reaction Force continues to provide sustainable employment opportunities for local people. The Quick Reaction Force has recently received training, kit, and new transportation including fuel, so they can respond to human-wildlife conflict in a timely and professional manner. In addition, through improved strategy, reporting, and proper use of new technology, our team can now monitor, plan, and predict mitigation measures to help minimise human wildlife conflict further. Through this, response rates and times to human-wildlife conflict incidents have been majorly reduced, which is improving community-park relationships and leading to fewer instances of illegal wildlife activity. 

Image Credit: Uganda Conservation Foundation.

This appeal also raised vital funds to support rangers in other parts of Africa. Funding has been allocated to our conservation partners in Zambia to support two special anti-poaching units, as well as a new aerial patrol in and around Kafue National Park to specifically cover the release area for the elephant orphanage project. The teams’ efforts have led to 107 suspects being apprehended, preventing them from undertaking further illegal activity. The result of the team’s success and continual presence is increasing the perception of risk to would-be poachers and traffickers, meaning an overall reduction in the threat to the elephant orphans based at the Kafue Release Facility, and to wild elephants and all wildlife in the Kafue National Park.  

Our ground-based conservation partners in Namibia are thrilled to report over 30 months without poaching in the protected region. With thanks to funding from DSWF, they continue to work hard protecting a vital population of desert-adapted black rhino distributed over a 25,000km2 area. Our teams’ regular patrols also ensure the safety of other threatened species in this region, thus increasing wildlife population numbers and biodiversity in the landscape. This year thanks to ongoing funding raised in our appeals our partners plan to develop their existing community outreach, improve ranger welfare, and expand the rhino ranger programme in a new currently unprotected region.  

Image Credit: Marcus Westberg.

We’ve already achieved so much with support from generous individuals – but as we’ve highlighted in this blog, there is still so much more we can do. If you would like to provide long-term support for our conservation work, you can set up a regular donation on our website which will enable us to continue funding and empowering our field-based teams: https://davidshepherd.org/donate/ 

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Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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