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- Student Stories
Ruaha Carnivore Project Wins University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award
18th July 2017
‘Transforming Lion Killers into Lion Conservationists’ is the eye-catching title of the award-winning project led by Pembroke Kaplan Senior Research Fellow, Dr Amy Dickman. Dr Dickman was delighted to receive an award on behalf of the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) at the Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, which took place on 28th June 2017.
The awards recognise and reward those at the University of Oxford, at any level of their career, who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. Community engagement is at the core of the RCP initiative, which is committed to understanding carnivore ecology and conflict in the Ruaha region of Tanzania.
The region holds the world’s second largest lion population, yet has high rates of lion killing by local people. The research findings of the project have shown that lions are killed for a range of local reasons, such as in retaliation for livestock attacks or to gain status, and they observed a general unawareness of the benefits of lions and reasons for conservation.
Ruaha is East Africa’s biggest National Park and the RCP team coordinate educational Park visits for villagers, enabling them to learn first-hand about wildlife conservation. So far, over 1000 participants from 16 villages have visited and over 95% report improved attitudes towards wildlife.
DVD nights have enabled the team to further engage over 30,000 locals in films that communicate information about wildlife conservation and the status of lions. The team has trained officers in 10 villages about protection methods, who in turn train thousands of others in their community. They also train young warriors to track lions, prevent lion hunts and protect communities and livestock from lions.
Significantly, lion killing has decreased by over 90% in the core study area. Watch Dr Dickman speaking about the project here.
She said, ‘What we’re doing is trying to get beyond the traditional academic output and get right into the communities who can most use that knowledge and actually impact it for long-term lion conservation.’
Click here to learn more about the other award-winning projects and nominees.