The Value of WMAs for Carnivores
In August 2016, the CCB research team initiated a study in the wildlife management areas (WMAs) on the western boundary of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), looking at factors influencing carnivore occupation. The team used camera traps at 98 different sites across an area of 15000 km2, the largest camera trap survey conducted so far by CCB. Permission was granted by communities living in these areas and results of the study will be provided back to the community. As the area is bounded by protected areas, communal farming areas and commercial cattle farms, the goal of the study is to look at whether these land-use areas influence large carnivore occupancy in addition to distance to human settlements, available water and prey, and habitat. The study ended in December 2016 and camera trap processing is still underway, but so far the team has detected photos of all the six large carnivores (lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, spotted hyena and brown hyena) as well as a number of smaller carnivore species and herbivores as well. This is great news for these partially protected areas in Botswana, as WMAs are often used as buffer zones to protected areas, both supporting wildlife and as areas for sustainable natural resource utilisation. Furthermore, they can be useful as a means to reduce conflict with nearby farming areas. Knowing that these particular WMAs show that wildlife is still present and perhaps thriving in these parts, as well as what influences their distribution, is vital for management and highlighting the value of these areas.
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