How communities and big cats are coexisting

Two male lions lying on their backs on a savannah


In Southern Africa’s massive Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), 20% of Africa’s lions share space with some 2.7 million people—many of whom depend on livestock to survive. With prides of up to 30 members, lions have a lot of mouths to feed—and while they are skilled hunters of wild prey, they aren’t above hopping into a livestock enclosure for an easy, captive meal. Unfortunately, this sets the stage for conflicts with livestock owners, who sometimes kill lions to protect their animals—or in retaliation for their losses.

One way WWF fosters a healthier coexistence between communities and these 400-pound cats is by supporting local organizations that monitor lion movement and conduct other conflict reduction work—such as building lion-proof livestock enclosures, known as kraals (over the past few years, 300 new kraals have been built and 1,000 existing ones improved).

WWF also supports efforts to collar and track lions, set up lion alert systems, and use data on large carnivore movements and conflict hot spots to guide land-use plans.

“For conservation to succeed, it must reduce the burden rural communities bear due to the proximity of large predators, and it must ensure that people directly benefit from the presence of wild animals in a meaningful way,” notes Dr. Jess Isden of WildCRU, a WWF partner. “We need patience, hard work, and the integration of multiple approaches,” she adds, “that are centered on community priorities and not just our own.”

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