TULI LION CONSERVATION PROJECT

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1 TULI LION CONSERVATION PROJECT Prepared by: Mr Andrei Snyman Professor Alex du Plessis

2 CONTENTS 1 BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT METHODOLOGY COST OF THE WORK SOURCES OF FUNDS...5

3 1 BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT Although the Northern Tuli Game Reserve provides a prime ecological environment that can support a resident lion population of about 40 lions, the current population is only 15 animals, with seven of these being cubs. The dominant cause of lion mortality is human action in the form of illegal hunting, snaring, etc. The figure below indicates the numbers and locations of lions that are known to have been killed in the greater Tuli area over the past five years. FIGURE 1: Mortality locations and numbers of lions killed in and around the Northern Tuli Game Reserve during Recent work to facilitate communication between conservationists and local communities, particularly the farmers to the south of Pontdrift, has yielded encouraging results. Farmers have hitherto clearly not appreciated how few lions are left in the Tuli population and, knowing this information, we believe that they will be far more hesitant to shoot them out of hand. In addition, when problem lions have been encountered on their properties, farmers have not known who to contact to have them captured and relocated, and killing them has been their easiest option. As a result of the workshops referred to above, the farmers in the area have formed a conservation association that will facilitate communication between conservationists and

4 farmers on matters of mutual concern. This is a very positive initiative and should be encouraged and sustained. In addition, and over the past three years, Andrei Snyman has been conducting research into carnivores in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, which has culminated in his submission, earlier this year, of a thesis in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of an MSc degree from the Tshwane University of Technology. The objective of the Tuli Lion Conservation Project is encourage and sustain a viable lion population in the Greater Tuli Game Reserve and in the conservation areas that are contiguous to it, through ongoing study and monitoring of the lions that are still in the area. 2 METHODOLOGY The above objective will be achieved by maintaining lion research and monitoring activity in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve as well as in conservation areas around it. These include areas south of the Limpopo River (particularly the Vhembe Game Reserve), the Mapungubwe National Park, the Tuli Circle safari area and the private farms in Botswana to the west of the Tuli. The general geographic area of interest in shown in the figure below. FIGURE 2: Greater Mapungubwe conservation area

5 Andrei Snyman has agreed to continue with his research work to monitor the movement of lions in the area of interest, and to actively pursue dialogue with all the individuals and communities who influence lion conservation in the area. Key to the achievement of the project objective is fitting some of the lions in the population with GPS-collars. Such collars allow the determination of: What areas lions are utilizing. Where lions were moving, and possibly why these movements occur. What happens to lions once they move outside the safety of conservation areas. Where lions have made kills (these sights are indicated by a clustering of signal points over time). An example of the information that can be obtained from GPS-collars is presented below. FIGURE 3: Map illustrating the complete data set of GPS locations of each of the four collared male lions in and around the Northern Tuli Game Reserve

6 3 COST OF THE WORK We estimate that the costs of conducting predator research in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, over the past three years, has been as reported in Table 1 below. TABLE 1: COSTS OF PREDATOR RESEARCH OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS CATEGORY APPROXIMATE COSTS FOR THREE YEARS (R) GPS and UHF tracking collars and associated 110,000 equipment Use of motor vehicle, fuel and maintenance 180,000 Research staff accommodation and subsistence costs 180,000 Research staff salaries 120,000 Game capture costs 40,000 Miscellaneous 20,000 TOTAL 650,000 (average of R217,000 per year) Note that the above costs include costs related to research of hyenas and leopards as well as lions, it being necessary to consider all three dominant predator species, even when the research focus is on one species only. The current Lion Research Project will run for an initial three year period (2010 to 2012) and the budget is as shown in Table 2. TABLE 2: LION RESEARCH PROJECT BUDGET (2010 money unescalated) COST CATEGORY GPS-collars (including capture costs) 50, ,000 Use of motor vehicle, fuel and maintenance 60,000 60,000 60,000 Research staff accommodation and subsistence 60,000 60,000 60,000 costs Research staff salaries 40,000 40,000 40,000 Game capture costs 10,000 10,000 10,000 Miscellaneous 10,000 10,000 10,000 Contingency 20,000 20,000 20,000 TOTAL 250, , ,000

7 4 SOURCES OF FUNDS Various investors have funded predator research in the Tuli over the past three years. Principal past investors include: INVESTOR APPROXIMATE CONTRIBUTION (R in cash or kind) Mashatu Game Reserve 301,000 Andrei Snyman 102,000 Tshwane University of Technology 90,000 Vectronics Aerospace 90,000 Adrian Wilson 33,000 Fred van der Neut 18,000 Dr Paul Funston 16,500 Note 1: Mashatu has also allowed Andrei Snyman (and other researchers) to conduct tourism activities such as cycling trips and walks from Mashatu s Main Camp, and to retain all income from these activities. These funds are typically put towards fuel and vehicle maintenance. Mashatu has, in addition, paid the researchers a monthly stipend in return for their assisting in guest entertainment from time to time, as well as free accommodation and subsistence at Main Camp (the value of which is assumed, in this report, to be R5,000 per month). The current project is being funded largely by Mashatu Game Reserve and Andrei Snyman. Additional investing partners are being sought. In addition to the obvious return for investing in a well-managed and executed, high profile eco-sustainability project, investors in the Tuli Lion Conservation Project are able to negotiate for some or all of the following: Attendance at lion capture and collaring operations (local lodge conditions apply). Unsurpassed photographic opportunities during collaring operations and subsequently during ongoing monitoring of animals. Personalised game viewing. Regular updates of progress, including on-line tracking of lion distribution.

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