A new carnivore protection ranger force, the Limpopo Lion Protection Team, has been deployed in the Limpopo National Park, Mozambique, a core component of the Greater Limpopo Conservation Area (TFCA).

The group consisting of recent graduates from the South African Wildlife College, were deployed into known lion territory and tasked with securing these areas from targeted lion poaching. Within the first four days, the group has covered 57km and removed 33 snares.

Faces of the rangers purposefully blurred.

Snares are a common method used to capture lions, which are then killed and their body parts harvested for sale in the East, or for traditional practices.

The practice also has an effect on other species in the area, such as vultures that are poisoned when they feed on the poisoned meat traps laid to catch lions. The Endangered Wildlife Trust has named these types of incidents as the most significant threat to vultures in Africa.

Peter Leitner, Project Manager at the Peace Parks Foundation says: “Over the last year, there have been seven lions poisoned, and eight incidences were recorded where poisoned bait was found at the park.”

Having identified this threat, the Peace Parks Foundation along with Mozambican National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) established an intensive protection zone (IPZ) in Limpopo National Park. Leitner says this was chosen because of the high concentration of game in this area. He adds that if the numbers in this area recover, it will drive tourism and investment to the area.

The Limpopo Lion Protection Team will also work in partnership with research teams in the Greater Limpopo TFCA as they investigate the movements of predators in the park. The team will assist researchers in removing snares, tracking poaching activity and maintaining communication with other park rangers.

Faces of the rangers purposefully blurred.

Additionally, the Peace Parks Foundation has commissioned a study into the driving forces behind poisoning of wildlife. Researchers have gone into villages to try and gain a better understanding of the issues promoting poisoning and poaching. The Peace Parks Foundation believes that by fully understanding the subject, appropriate interventions can be developed which will address the underlying issues.