Conservation The Story of The Bubye Valley

This is the story of how a vast swathe of virgin African wilderness was contorted into one of the biggest cattle ranches in the world and then painstakingly transformed back again, against all odds. It’s about how the sport hunting of one wildlife species is paying for the protection of another, highly endangered species. It is also an account of how a living laboratory is formulating a land-use model that could be implemented across the continent of Africa


Lion and leopard are two of Africa’s most iconic and charismatic carnivores. As a function of their role at the top of the food chain, they are vital to proper ecosystem functioning and health. However, both of these species are facing global population decline through the effects of burgeoning human population growth, and the resultant persecution and habitat fragmentation. Conservation research on these key ecological species was initiated on the Bubye Valley Conservancy in 2009, beginning with simple density estimates calculated by counting animal tracks on dirt roads.

GPS collaring for population monitoring

Since the project’s conception; the scope of the research has grown to include GPS collaring for population monitoring and interaction analyses, camera-trapping to determine population density, demographics and age structure, and activity loggers to help us better understand the behavioural ecology and eco-physiology of these species.

herbivore monitoring habitat analyses

The breadth of research has also increased to include herbivore monitoring and habitat analyses that are fundamental to understanding the ecology of any species in a dynamic ecosystem. The research has so far produced two doctoral projects at the University of Oxford, and as opportunities continue to arise, we are currently in the process of securing resources for a five-year research project investigating lion behavioural ecology and the role of trophy hunting in lion conservation.

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