Determining levels of conflict between farmers and cheetah (and other large carnivores), particularly in Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces was one of Dambari Wildlife Trusts earliest projects. Overcoming human-wildlife conflicts is a key part of our work, from conducting structured interviews in the community to understand perceptions and attitudes, to helping to develop predator-friendly livestock management techniques and raising awareness about cheetahs (and other carnivores) with school children. All of this work was needed to support cheetah conservation in the local area.
Dambari Wildlife Trust was delighted that this information fed into follow-on project by Cheetah Conservation Zimbabwe which evaluated cheetah population size and distribution across the country. Since 2012, the Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe has taken cheetah research and conservation forward in Zimbabwe.
Small carnivores were identified as a group about which little is known, particularly in the Matobo Hills. Their importance in the ecosystem is acknowledged – as limiters of small mammal and bird populations, scavengers, potential disease vectors between domestic animals and wildlife, and a source of conflict with people through taking small stock and poultry. Twenty-four species of carnivore (of the 32 species that occur in Zimbabwe) had been recorded in the Matobo Hills in historic times. As a result, the Matobo Small Carnivore Survey ran from February 2013 to October 2015 and found that all 24 of the species known to exist in the Matobo Hills historically are still present.
Key to Dambari Wildlife Trust’s success was the development of our Conservation Across Boundaries programme that has been running for a decade in the Matobo Hills region. This programme encourages stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds and with different expertise to work together towards the common goal of a healthy and functional Matobo Hills ecosystem.