Peer-reviewed Publications


Exploring the connections between giraffe skin disease and lion predation

AB Muneza, DW Linden, MH Kimaro, AJ Dickman, DW Macdonald, GJ Roloff, MW Hayward, RA Montgomery

Journal of Zoology, Volume 316, P49-60



Rates at which predators encounter, hunt and kill prey are influenced by, among other things, the intrinsic condition of prey. Diseases can considerably compromise body condition, potentially weakening ability of afflicted prey to avoid predation. Understanding predator–prey dynamics is particularly important when both species are threatened, as is the case with lions (Panthera leo) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis). Importantly, an emergent disease called giraffe skin disease (GSD) may affect predatory interactions of lions and giraffes. Hypotheses suggest that GSD may negatively affect the likelihood of giraffes surviving lion attacks. We evaluated giraffe–lion interactions in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, where 85% of the giraffe population has GSD. We monitored lion hunting behaviour and estimated proportion of the giraffe population with GSD and evidence of ‘lion marks’ from assumed previous lion predation attempts (i.e. claw marks, bite marks and missing tails). Although we recorded lions hunting and feeding on 16 different prey species, giraffes represented the largest prey category (27%; n = 171 of 641). For age and sex cohorts combined, 26% (n = 140 of 548) of encountered giraffes displayed evidence of previous lion predation attempts. Occurrence of lion marks was higher for adults and males in the giraffe population, suggesting that these individuals were more likely to survive lion attacks. We also found marginal evidence of a positive relationship between giraffes with severe GSD and occurrence of lion marks. Our results identify giraffes as important prey species for lions in Ruaha National Park and suggest that GSD severity plays a minor role in likelihood of surviving a lion attack. This is the first study to explore connections between lion predation and GSD. We explore the ecological implications of disease ecology on predator–prey interactions and consider opportunities for future research on causal links between GSD and giraffe vulnerability to lion predation.

Intergenerational inequity: stealing the joy and benefits of nature from our children

Matt W Hayward, Ninon FV Meyer, Niko Balkenhol, Chad T Beranek, Cassandra K Bugir, Kathleen V Bushell, Alex Callen, Amy J Dickman, Andrea S Griffin, Peter M Haswell, Lachlan G Howell, Christopher A Jordan, Kaya Klop-Toker, Remington J Moll, Robert A Montgomery, Tutilo Mudumba, Liudmila Osipova, Stéphanie Périquet, Rafael Reyna-Hurtado, William J Ripple, Lilian P Sales, Florian J Weise, Ryan R Witt, Peter A Lindsey

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2022, P28



We discuss the principal issues of intergenerational inequity of nature and wild places. We focus on the broader issue regarding the decrease in nature-based experiences future generations will face, and how the lack of such experiences will shape the future of biodiversity conservation. Throughout this manuscript we use biodiversity –the variety and variability of life on Earth– and species –the key units representing biodiversity– somewhat interchangeably to broaden the understanding of this paper beyond the scientific community.

Understanding nuanced preferences for carnivore conservation: To know them is not always to love them

DW Macdonald, PJ Johnson, D Burnham, A Dickman, A Hinks, C Sillero-Zubiri, EA Macdonald

Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 37, e02150

Global Ecology and Conservation; Pages 204-214


​In a study of more than 3000 participants from nine countries, we explored peoples’ preferences for the conservation of two groups of species that frequently interact with humans: large carnivores (n = 29 species in the order Carnivora with average adult body mass > 15 kg), and wild canids and wild felids (n = 73 species). We presented participants with pairs of photographs and recorded which they would prioritise for conservation. We also attempted to identify the species attributes which were associated with preference. Among the large carnivores, respondents prefered felids over hyaenids and canids. For large carnivores, images of species in social groups attracted lower preference scores. Felids were strongly preferred to canids. Both for large carnivores overall, and for felids and canids, people preferred species with a more threatened IUCN status, larger body size and striking torso colouration. The effect of peoples’ familiarity with a species on their preference depended on their affinity with it (how much they reported ‘liking’ it). Where respondents reported liking a species in the felid/canid study, preference score tended to increase with familiarity. For species which were not liked, preference declined with familiarity. We propose that this reflects negative experiences or cultural histories. There were nuanced differences in conservation preferences between countries, which may also arise from socio-cultural factors. These findings reinforce the importance of understanding the local context when identifying species as potential flagships for wildlife conservation but also suggest that some preferences seem to broadly generalise across different groups of stakeholders.

What is a lion worth to local people–Quantifying of the costs of living alongside a top predator

Kim S Jacobsen, Erlend Dancke Sandorf, Andrew J Loveridge, Amy J Dickman, Paul J Johnson, Susana Mourato, Davide Contu, David W Macdonald

Ecological Economics, Volume 198, p. 107431



​The presence of large predators entails a range of costs and some benefits for the communities that live alongside them. The cost in terms of the value of livestock lost to predation is well known, but this represents only a part of the costs that people experience, as it does not account for non-market costs such as fear, avoidance behaviours and threat to human life. We quantify the total cost of lion presence for agro-pastoral communities in Zimbabwe using economic valuation techniques. The total perceived value of one additional lion was estimated to be negative US$180 per person per year, which is several hundred times larger than the market value of the average loss of livestock per household. If making simplifying economic assumptions, this discrepancy reveals the magnitude of the non-market costs associated with the presence of large predators. The disvalue of lion presence was linked to fear, ecocentric values, wealth and trust in compensation institutions. We also demonstrate the importance of considering heterogeneity in preferences within communities; segments of the population did not have net negative value attached to lions, and some disliked monetary compensation. We also estimate the willingness-to-accept for two human-wildlife conflict mitigation programs in terms of acceptable increases in lion numbers, as opposed to monetary units which is the conventional approach in economic valuation studies. We argue that estimating value in terms of biodiversity outcomes should be used more widely. We also demonstrate the distorting effect of distrust towards compensation in choice experiments and argue that economic valuation methods employing choice experiments should control for this distrust when estimating willingness-to-pay. These discoveries have relevance for a wide range of situations where potentially dangerous wildlife species co-exist with people.

Threat analysis for more effective lion conservation

Hans Bauer, Amy Dickman, Guillaume Chapron, Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Samantha K Nicholson, Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, Luke Hunter, Peter Lindsey, David W Macdonald

Oryx, Volume 56, p. 108-115



​We use comparable 2005 and 2018 population data to assess threats driving the decline of lion Panthera leo populations, and review information on threats structured by problem tree and root cause analysis. We define 11 threats and rank their severity and prevalence. Two threats emerged as affecting both the number of lion populations and numbers within them: livestock depredation leading to retaliatory killing of lions, and bushmeat poaching leading to prey depletion. Our data do not allow determination of whether any specific threat drives declines faster than others. Of 20 local extirpations, most were associated with armed conflicts as a driver of proximate threats. We discuss the prevalence and severity of proximate threats and their drivers, to identify priorities for more effective conservation of lions, other carnivores and their prey.

Camera trapping and spatially explicit capture–recapture for the monitoring and conservation management of lions: Insights from a globally important population in Tanzania

Paolo Strampelli, Charlotte E. Searle, Josephine B. Smit, Philipp Henschel, Lameck Mkuburo, Dennis Ikanda, David W. Macdonald, Amy J. Dickman 

Ecological Solutions and Evidence, Volume 3, e12129

Ecological Solutions and Evidence


  1. Accurate and precise estimates of population status are required to inform and evaluate conservation management and policy interventions. Although the lion (Panthera leo) is a charismatic species receiving increased conservation attention, robust status estimates are lacking for most populations. While for many large carnivores population density is often estimated through spatially explicit capture–recapture (SECR) applied to camera trap data, the lack of pelage patterns in lions has limited the application of this technique to the species.

  2. Here, we present one of the first applications of this methodology to lion, in Tanzania's Ruaha-Rungwa landscape, a stronghold for the species for which no empirical estimates of status are available. We deployed four camera trap grids across habitat and land management types, and we identified individual lions through whisker spots, scars and marks, and multiple additional features.

  3. Double-blind identification revealed low inter-observer variation in photo identification (92% agreement), due to the use of xenon-flash cameras and consistent framing and angles of photographs.

  4. Lion occurred at highest densities in a prey-rich area of Ruaha National Park (6.12 ± SE 0.94 per 100 km2), and at relatively high densities (4.06 ± SE 1.03 per 100 km2) in a community-managed area of similar riparian-grassland habitat. Miombo woodland in both photographic and trophy hunting areas sustained intermediate lion densities (1.75 ± SE 0.62 and 2.25 ± SE 0.52 per 100 km2, respectively). These are the first spatially explicit density estimates for lion in Tanzania, including the first for a trophy hunting and a community-managed area, and also provide some of the first insights into lion status in understudied miombo habitats.

  5. We discuss in detail the methodology employed, the potential for scaling-up over larger areas, and its limitations. We suggest that the method can be an important tool for lion monitoring and explore the implications of our findings for lion management.

Fostering Coexistence Between People and Large Carnivores in Africa: Using a Theory of Change to Identify Pathways to Impact and Their Underlying Assumptions

Sarah M. Durant, Agnese Marino, John D. C. Linnell, Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Stephanie Dloniak, Stephanie Dolrenry, Paul Funston, Rosemary J. Groom, Lise Hanssen, Jane Horgan1, Dennis Ikanda, Audrey Ipavec, Bernard Kissui, Laly Lichtenfeld, J. Weldon McNutt, Nicholas Mitchell, Elizabeth Naro, Abdoulkarim Samna and Gidey Yirga.

Frontiers in Conservation Science, 24 January 2022



Coexistence with large carnivores poses challenges to human well-being, livelihoods, development, resource management, and policy. Even where people and carnivores have historically coexisted, traditional patterns of behavior toward large carnivores may be disrupted by wider processes of economic, social, political, and climate change. Conservation interventions have typically focused on changing behaviors of those living alongside large carnivores to promote sustainable practices. While these interventions remain important, their success is inextricably linked to broader socio-political contexts, including natural resource governance and equitable distribution of conservation-linked costs and benefits. In this context we propose a Theory of Change to identify logical pathways of action through which coexistence with large carnivores can be enhanced. We focus on Africa's dryland landscapes, known for their diverse guild of large carnivores that remain relatively widespread across the continent. We review the literature to understand coexistence and its challenges; explain our Theory of Change, including expected outcomes and pathways to impact; and discuss how our model could be implemented and operationalized. Our analysis draws on the experience of coauthors, who are scientists and practitioners, and on literature from conservation, political ecology, and anthropology to explore the challenges, local realities, and place-based conditions under which expected outcomes succeed or fail. Three pathways to impact were identified: (a) putting in place good governance harmonized across geographic scales; (b) addressing coexistence at the landscape level; and (c) reducing costs and increasing benefits of sharing a landscape with large carnivores. Coordinated conservation across the extensive, and potentially transboundary, landscapes needed by large carnivores requires harmonization of top-down approaches with bottom-up community-based conservation. We propose adaptive co-management approaches combined with processes for active community engagement and informed consent as useful dynamic mechanisms for navigating through this contested space, while enabling adaptation to climate change. Success depends on strengthening underlying enabling conditions, including governance, capacity, local empowerment, effective monitoring, and sustainable financial support. Implementing the Theory of Change requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation to inform adaptation and build confidence in the model. Overall, the model provides a flexible and practical framework that can be adapted to dynamic local socio-ecological contexts.

Temporal scale of habitat selection for large carnivores: Balancing energetics, risk and finding prey

Anna C. Nisi, Justin P. Suraci, Nathan Ranc, Laurence G. Frank, Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Steven Ekwanga, Terrie M. Williams, Christopher C. Wilmers

Journal of Animal Ecology, Volume 91, p.182-195



  1. When navigating heterogeneous landscapes, large carnivores must balance trade-offs between multiple goals, including minimizing energetic expenditure, maintaining access to hunting opportunities and avoiding potential risk from humans. The relative importance of these goals in driving carnivore movement likely changes across temporal scales, but our understanding of these dynamics remains limited.

  2. Here we quantified how drivers of movement and habitat selection changed with temporal grain for two large carnivore species living in human-dominated landscapes, providing insights into commonalities in carnivore movement strategies across regions.

  3. We used high-resolution GPS collar data and integrated step selection analyses to model movement and habitat selection for African lions Panthera leo in Laikipia, Kenya and pumas Puma concolor in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California across eight temporal grains, ranging from 5 min to 12 hr. Analyses considered landscape covariates that are related to energetics, resource acquisition and anthropogenic risk.

  4. For both species, topographic slope, which strongly influences energetic expenditure, drove habitat selection and movement patterns over fine temporal grains but was less important at longer temporal grains. In contrast, avoiding anthropogenic risk during the day, when risk was highest, was consistently important across grains, but the degree to which carnivores relaxed this avoidance at night was strongest for longer term movements. Lions and pumas modified their movement behaviour differently in response to anthropogenic features: lions sped up while near humans at fine temporal grains, while pumas slowed down in more developed areas at coarse temporal grains. Finally, pumas experienced a trade-off between energetically efficient movement and avoiding anthropogenic risk.

  5. Temporal grain is an important methodological consideration in habitat selection analyses, as drivers of both movement and habitat selection changed across temporal grain. Additionally, grain-dependent patterns can reflect meaningful behavioural processes, including how fitness-relevant goals influence behaviour over different periods of time. In applying multi-scale analysis to fine-resolution data, we showed that two large carnivore species in very different human-dominated landscapes balanced competing energetic and safety demands in largely similar ways. These commonalities suggest general strategies of landscape use across large carnivore species.


Coexistence in an African pastoral landscape: Evidence that livestock and wildlife temporally partition water resources

Erin Connolly, James Allan, Peadar Brehony, Alice Aduda, Guy Western, Samantha Russell, Amy Dickman, Peter Tyrrell

African Journal of Ecology

African Journal of Ecology


African rangelands support substantial wildlife populations alongside pastoralists and livestock. Recent wildlife declines are often attributed to competition with livestock over water and grazing, in part because livestock are thought to spatially displace wildlife. However, more evidence is needed to understand this interaction and inform rangeland management. Here, we analysed the temporal overlap between wildlife and livestock at water points in a community-governed area of Kenya's South Rift Valley, which is a dry season refuge where Maasai pastoralists, livestock and wildlife co-occur. We used camera traps to capture images at water points in two time periods: first, when nearby settlements were unoccupied, and second, as people and their herds moved into the area. We measured wildlife activity (independent detections per hour) and the difference in temporal overlap between livestock and wildlife. We found no evidence that daily wildlife activity declined despite increased human and livestock settlement. However, temporal partitioning between livestock and wildlife at watering points increased with wildlife using water resources more at night. Maasai corral livestock overnight to protect them from predation, allowing wildlife to persist in a livestock-dominated landscape. Our study demonstrates humans and wildlife co-adapting to mitigate competition for shared water resources, thereby facilitating spatial coexistence.

Leopard population density varies across habitats and management strategies in a mixed-use Tanzanian landscape

Charlotte E Searle, Josephine Smit, Paolo Strampelli, Lameck Mkuburo, Dennis Ikanda, David W Macdonald, Andrew J Loveridge, Amy J Dickman

01/19 - 01/23

Biological Conservation Volume 257, May 2021, 109120

With large carnivores undergoing widespread range contractions across Africa, effective monitoring across mixed-use landscapes should be considered a priority to identify at-risk populations and prioritise conservation actions. We provide the first comparison of leopard population density within different components of a mixed-use landscape in Tanzania, via spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) modelling of camera trap data from the Ruaha-Rungwa landscape in 2018 and 2019. Population density was highest in highly-productive Acacia-Commiphora habitat in the core tourist area of Ruaha National Park (6.81 ± 1.24 leopards per 100 km2). The next highest density (4.23 ± 1.02 per 100 km2) was estimated in similar habitat in a neighbouring community-managed area (Idodi-Pawaga MBOMIPA WMA). Lowest densities were estimated in miombo (Brachystegia-Jubelnardia) woodland habitat, both in a trophy hunting area (Rungwa Game Reserve; 3.36 ± 1.09 per 100 km2) and inside the National Park (3.23 ± 1.25 per 100 km2). Population density was highly correlated with prey abundance, suggesting that variation in leopard density may be primarily driven by availability of prey, which likely varies with habitat types and anthropogenic impacts. Anthropogenic mortality may also have a direct influence on leopard in more impacted areas, but further research is required to investigate this. Our findings show that a hunting area with significant protection investment supports a leopard density comparable to similar habitat in a photographic tourism area. We also provide evidence that community-managed areas have the potential to effectively conserve large carnivore populations at relatively high densities, but may be vulnerable to edge effects.

Density responses of lesser-studied carnivores to habitat and management strategies in southern Tanzania’s Ruaha-Rungwa landscape

Marie Hardouin, Charlotte E Searle, Paolo Strampelli, Josephine Smit, Amy Dickman, Alex L Lobora, J Marcus Rowcliffe

PloS one 16: 0242293



Compared to emblematic large carnivores, most species of the order Carnivora receive little conservation attention despite increasing anthropogenic pressure and poor understanding of their status across much of their range. We employed systematic camera trapping and spatially explicit capture-recapture modelling to estimate variation in population density of serval, striped hyaena and aardwolf across the mixed-use Ruaha-Rungwa landscape in southern Tanzania. We selected three sites representative of different habitat types, management strategies, and levels of anthropogenic pressure: Ruaha National Park’s core tourist area, dominated by Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets; the Park’s miombo woodland; and the neighbouring community-run MBOMIPA Wildlife Management Area, also covered in Acacia-Commiphora. The Park’s miombo woodlands supported a higher serval density (5.56 [Standard Error = ±2.45] individuals per 100 km2) than either the core tourist area (3.45 [±1.04] individuals per 100 km2) or the Wildlife Management Area (2.08 [±0.74] individuals per 100 km2). Taken together, precipitation, the abundance of apex predators, and the level of anthropogenic pressure likely drive such variation. Striped hyaena were detected only in the Wildlife Management Area and at low density (1.36 [±0.50] individuals per 100 km2), potentially due to the location of the surveyed sites at the edge of the species’ global range, high densities of sympatric competitors, and anthropogenic edge effects. Finally, aardwolf were captured in both the Park’s core tourist area and the Wildlife Management Area, with a higher density in the Wildlife Management Area (13.25 [±2.48] versus 9.19 [±1.66] individuals per 100 km2), possibly as a result of lower intraguild predation and late fire outbreaks in the area surveyed. By shedding light on three understudied African carnivore species, this study highlights the importance of miombo woodland conservation and community-managed conservation, as well as the value of by-catch camera trap data to improve ecological knowledge of lesser-studied carnivores.

Attracting investment for Africa's protected areas by creating enabling environments for collaborative management partnerships

P Lindsey, M Baghai, G Bigurube, S Cunliffe, A Dickman, K Fitzgerald, M Flyman, P Gandiwa, B Kumchedwa, A Madope, M Morjan, A Parker, K Steiner, P Tumenta, K Uiseb, A Robson

Biological Conservation 255: 108979

Biological Conservation Volume 257, May 2021, 109120

Africa's Protected Area (PA) estate includes some of the world's most iconic wildlife and wildlands and preserves ecosystem services upon which people depend. However, Africa's PAs are facing a growing array of threats resulting in significant degradation, factors compounded by chronic funding shortages. In this opinion piece, drawing from the available literature and collective experience of the author group, we look at the potential for collaborative management partnerships (CMPs) between state wildlife agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to attract investment and technical capacity to improve PA performance. The three main CMP models—financial and technical support, co-management, and delegated management—yield median funding that is 1.5, 2.6 and 14.6 times greater than baseline state budgets for PA management. However, several factors limit the scaling of CMPs in Africa. Significant barriers include concerns from African governments, such as reluctance to engage in co-management and delegated CMPs due to perceptions that such partnerships may represent an admission of failure, result in a loss of revenues for government, or undermine sovereignty. There are also constraints associated with NGOs and donors that limit scaling of CMPs. We discuss how these issues might be addressed and propose a reframing of the discourse around CMPs. Specifically, we recommend that governments view CMPs as strategic, proactive tools that will enable them to unlock funding, investment and expertise for conservation and make recommendations to attract such investment. Preliminary evidence and the experience of the author group suggests that expanding CMPs for PAs could; improve PA management; share the costs of protecting Africa's PAs with the global community; build local capacity; help protect the ecosystem services upon which Africa's economies depend; stimulate rural development; and benefit local communities.

Soap operas will not wash for wildlife

Keith Somerville, Amy Dickman, Paul J Johnson, Adam G Hart

People and Nature

People & Nature


Natural history documentaries are a globally important source of information about wildlife, conservation and environmental issues, and they are the closest many will get to seeing featured animals and their behaviour in the wild. They are entertainment, certainly, but may also inform people's knowledge of the natural world and influence their ideas on conservation of species and habitats. We locate our perspective in the existing literature analysing wildlife documentary making and its effects.

We argue that a conspicuous pre-occupation with the ‘personalisation’ of individual animals and the injection of false jeopardy in recent wildlife documentaries leads to significant misinformation and creates problems for public understanding of wider conservation.

We illustrate our point by detailing episodes from the BBC natural history series Dynasties, discussing personalisation, anthropomorphism and the use of jeopardy to gain emotive impact and audience engagement. We find that narratives are framed around a single individual, that ‘stories’ are framed as soap operas, that jeopardy is emphasised throughout and that animals are endowed with the capacity to be aware of, and work towards, the dynasties of the title.

With conservation increasingly relying on public support, we argue that it is important that people are presented with factually correct information, and portraying wild animals as soap opera style characters is neither honest nor helpful.

Estimating leopard density across the highly modified human-dominated landscape of the Western Cape, South Africa

Carolyn H Devens, Matt W Hayward, Thulani Tshabalala, Amy Dickman, Jeannine S McManus, Bool Smuts, Michael J Somers

Oryx 55: 34-45

Oryx journal


Apex predators play a critical role in maintaining the health of ecosystems but are highly susceptible to habitat degradation and loss caused by land-use changes, and to anthropogenic mortality. The leopard Panthera pardus is the last free-roaming large carnivore in the Western Cape province, South Africa. During 2011–2015, we carried out a camera-trap survey across three regions covering c. 30,000 km2 of the Western Cape. Our survey comprised 151 camera sites sampling nearly 14,000 camera-trap nights, resulting in the identification of 71 individuals. We used two spatially explicit capture–recapture methods (R programmes secr and SPACECAP) to provide a comprehensive density analysis capable of incorporating environmental and anthropogenic factors. Leopard density was estimated to be 0.35 and 1.18 leopards/100 km2, using secr and SPACECAP, respectively. Leopard population size was predicted to be 102–345 individuals for our three study regions. With these estimates and the predicted available leopard habitat for the province, we extrapolated that the Western Cape supports an estimated 175–588 individuals. Providing a comprehensive baseline population density estimate is critical to understanding population dynamics across a mixed landscape and helping to determine the most appropriate conservation actions. Spatially explicit capture–recapture methods are unbiased by edge effects and superior to traditional capture–mark–recapture methods when estimating animal densities. We therefore recommend further utilization of robust spatial methods as they continue to be advanced.


Human-Wildlife Conflict

The importance of tangible and intangible factors in human‐carnivore coexistence

Kim S Jacobsen, Amy J Dickman, David W Macdonald, Susana Mourato, Paul Johnson, Lovemore Sibanda, Andrew J Loveridge

Conservation Biology

Conservation Biology


Conflict with humans is one of the major threats facing the world's remaining large carnivore populations, and understanding human attitudes is key to improving coexistence. We surveyed people living near Hwange National Park about their attitudes toward coexisting with lions. We used ordinal regression models with the results of the survey to investigate the importance of a range of tangible and intangible factors on attitudes. The variables investigated included the costs and benefits of wildlife presence, emotion, culture, religion, vulnerability, risk perception, notions of responsibility, and personal value orientations. This was for the purpose of effectively tailoring conservation efforts but also for ethical policy making. Intangible factors (e.g., fear and ecocentric values) were as important as, if not more important than, tangible factors (such as livestock losses) for understanding attitudes, based on the effect sizes of these variables. The degree to which participants’ fear of lions interfered with their daily activities was the most influential variable. The degree to which benefits accrue to households from the nearby protected area was also highly influential, as was number of livestock lost, number of dependents, ecocentric value orientation, and participation in conflict mitigation programs. Contrary to what is often assumed, metrics of livestock loss did not dominate attitudes to coexistence with lions. Furthermore, we found that socioeconomic variables may appear important when studied in isolation, but their effect may disappear when controlling for variables related to beliefs, perceptions, and past experiences. This raises questions about the widespread reliance on socioeconomic variables in the field of human–wildlife conflict and coexistence. To facilitate coexistence with large carnivores, we recommend measures that reduce fear (through education and through protective measures that reduce the need to be fearful), reduction of livestock losses, and ensuring local communities benefit from conservation. Ecocentric values also emerged as influential, highlighting the need to develop conservation initiatives tailored to local values.

Commercially-driven lion part removal: What is the evidence from mortality records?

Peter Coals, Amy Dickman, Jane Hunt, Ana Grau, Roseline Mandisodza-Chikerema, Dennis Ikanda, David W Macdonald, Andrew Loveridge

Global Ecology and Conservation 24: e01327

Global Ecology and Conservation Volume 24, December 2020, e01327


Trade-driven killing for body parts has long been a major cause of population decline for a number of big cat species. There are now worrying suggestions that commercialised illegal trade in body parts might become a threat for wild lions in Africa, and recent concerns have been raised that trade in captive-bred lion skeletons from South Africa may have stimulated demand for lion bones, claws, and teeth and thus incentivised commercially-driven, targeted poaching of wild lions for illegal trade. However, analysis of the prevalence of commercially-driven, targeted killing of lions for body parts is currently lacking for most major lion populations. In this study we make use of detailed, long-term records of mortality and body part removal from field sites in two of Africa’s lion population strongholds, the Hwange National Park and surrounds, Zimbabwe, within the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area and the Ruaha landscape in Tanzania, to evaluate potential cases of commercially-driven part removal and targeted killings. We find no evidence of systemic targeted killing of lions for commercial trade at either site and suggest that the majority of part removals are opportunistic and culturally-driven. Nevertheless, we stress the requirement for vigilance around the issue of lion trade and support the development of further range-wide capacity to record wild lion mortality and body part removal data.

Beyond banning wildlife trade: COVID-19, conservation and development

Dilys Roe, Amy Dickman, Richard Kock, EJ Milner-Gulland, Elizabeth Rihoy

World Development 136: 105121

World Development Volume 136, December 2020, 105121


One of the immediate responses to COVID-19 has been a call to ban wildlife trade given the suspected origin of the pandemic in a Chinese market selling and butchering wild animals. There is clearly an urgent need to tackle wildlife trade that is illegal, unsustainable or carries major risks to human health, biodiversity conservation or meeting acceptable animal welfare standards. However, some of the suggested actions in these calls go far beyond tackling these risks and have the potential to undermine human rights, damage conservation incentives and harm sustainable development. There are a number of reasons for this concerns. First calls for bans on wildlife markets often include calls for bans on wet markets, but the two are not the same thing, and wet markets can be a critical underpinning of informal food systems. Second, wildlife trade generates essential resources for the world’s most vulnerable people, contributing to food security for millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Third, wildlife trade bans have conservation risks including driving trade underground, making it even harder to regulate, and encouraging further livestock production. Fourth, in many cases, sustainable wildlife trade can provide key incentives for local people to actively protect species and the habitat they depend on, leading to population recoveries. Most importantly, a singular focus on wildlife trade overlooks the key driver of the emergence of infectious diseases: habitat destruction, largely driven by agricultural expansion and deforestation, and industrial livestock production. We suggest that the COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift both in our global food system and also in our approach to conservation. We make specific suggestions as to what this entails, but the overriding principle is that local people must be at the heart of such policy shifts.

Conserving Africa’s wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond

Peter Lindsey, James Allan, Peadar Brehony, Amy Dickman, Ashley Robson, Colleen Begg, Hasita Bhammar, Lisa Blanken, Thomas Breuer, Kathleen Fitzgerald, Michael Flyman, Patience Gandiwa, Nicia Giva, Dickson Kaelo, Simon Nampindo, Nyambe Nyambe, Kurt Steiner, Andrew Parker, Dilys Roe, Paul Thomson, Morgan Trimble, Alexandre Caron, Peter Tyrrell

Nature ecology & evolution 4: 1300-1310

Nature Ecology & Evolution


The SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 illness are driving a global crisis. Governments have responded by restricting human movement, which has reduced economic activity. These changes may benefit biodiversity conservation in some ways, but in Africa, we contend that the net conservation impacts of COVID-19 will be strongly negative. Here, we describe how the crisis creates a perfect storm of reduced funding, restrictions on the operations of conservation agencies, and elevated human threats to nature. We identify the immediate steps necessary to address these challenges and support ongoing conservation efforts. We then highlight systemic flaws in contemporary conservation and identify opportunities to restructure for greater resilience. Finally, we emphasize the critical importance of conserving habitat and regulating unsafe wildlife trade practices to reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Drivers of leopard (Panthera pardus) habitat use and relative abundance in Africa's largest transfrontier conservation area

Charlotte E Searle, Dominik T Bauer, M Kristina Kesch, Jane E Hunt, Roseline Mandisodza-Chikerema, Michael V Flyman, David W Macdonald, Amy J Dickman, Andrew J Loveridge

Biological Conservation 248: 108649

Biological Conservation Volume 257, May 2021, 109120


Transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) have the potential to provide havens for large carnivores while preserving connectivity across wider mixed-use landscapes. However, information on the status of species in such landscapes is lacking, despite being a prerequisite for effective conservation planning. We contribute information to this gap for leopard (Panthera pardus) in Africa, where the species is facing severe range contractions, using data from transect surveys of a 30,000km2 area across Botswana and Zimbabwe in the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA. We used occupancy models to assess how biotic, anthropogenic, and management variables influence leopard habitat use, and N-mixture models to identify variables influencing the species' relative abundance. Leopard were detected in 184 out of 413 sampling units of 64km2; accounting for imperfect detection resulted in mean detection probability  = 0.24 (SD = 0.06) and mean probability of site use  = 0.89 (SD = 0.20). Habitat use was positively influenced by prey availability and high protection. Relative abundance was best predicted by trophy hunting, which had a negative influence, while abundance was positively associated with high protection and availability of steenbok. Our findings suggest that securing prey populations should be a priority in conservation planning for leopard in Africa, and underline the necessity of preserving highly-protected areas within mixed-use landscapes as strongholds for large carnivores. Our findings also support calls for better assessment of leopard population density in trophy hunting areas, and illustrate the value of N-mixture models to identify factors influencing relative abundance of large carnivores.

Wars over Wildlife: Green Militarisation and Just War Theory

Amy Dickman, Paul Johnson, Peter Coals, Lauren Harrington, Peter Tyrrell, Keith Somerville, Alayne Cotterill, David Whetham

Conservation & Society 18: 293-297

Conservation & Society


Militarisation of conservation (sometimes known as ‘green militarisation’) is an issue of growing international interest. Rhino horn is immensely valuable (in 2013 its value exceeded that of gold or cocaine), and its illegal trade has attracted widespread attention. Conservationists have declared a ‘war’ on poaching, with extensive military resources deployed to combat it. This sometimes includes operations which are referred to, particularly in the media, as ‘shoot-to-kill’. These can be tantamount to extra-judicial killings. We scrutinise this issue using ‘Just War’ principles, to explore whether the ‘war’ on poaching meets the criteria expected of armed conflict.
Our perspective suggests that it fails both ethical and pragmatic examination. This piece encourages conservation scientists, and the public, to consider which actions are justified in protecting wildlife, and how we should rethink conservation policy to achieve ethical, successful outcomes for both people and wildlife. 

The relative effects of prey availability, anthropogenic pressure and environmental variables on lion (Panthera leo) site use in Tanzania's Ruaha landscape during the dry season

Leandro Abade, Jeremy Cusack, Remington J Moll, Paolo Strampelli, Amy J Dickman, David W Macdonald, Robert A Montgomery

Journal of Zoology 310: 135-144

Journal of Zoology


African lion (Panthera leo) populations have been reduced by almost half in the past two decades, with national parks and game reserves maintaining vital source populations, particularly in East Africa. However, much of the habitats necessary to support lion populations occur in unprotected lands surrounding protected areas. There is an ongoing need for understanding the ecological determinants of lion occurrence in these unprotected habitats, where lions are most vulnerable to extinction. This study evaluated variations in lion site use along a gradient of anthropogenic pressure encompassing the Ruaha National Park, Pawaga-Idodi Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and unprotected village lands via camera-trapping. We collected lion occurrence data in the dry seasons of 2014 and 2015, and modelled lion site use as a function of environmental and anthropogenic variables under a Bayesian framework. We recorded 143 lion detections within the national park, 14 in the WMA and no detections in village lands. This result does not imply that lions never use the village lands, but rather that we did not detect them in our surveys during the dry season. Our findings suggest that lion site use was primarily associated with high seasonal wild prey biomass in protected areas. Thus, we infer that human-induced prey depletion and lion mortality are compromising lion site use of village lands. Seasonal prey movements, and a corresponding concentration inside the park during sampling, could also play an important role in lion site use. These findings reinforce the need to secure large-bodied prey base to conserve lions, and the importance of protected areas as key refugia for the species.

Insights into the status and distribution of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in an understudied potential stronghold in southern Tanzania

P Strampelli, C Searle, J Smit, A Grau, P Henschel, A Lobora, N Mitchell, D Macdonald, A Dickman

African Journal of Ecology 59: 334-341

African Journal of Ecology


Research on the African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) exhibits strong geographical biases, with most studies taking place within a few, well‐studied populations. Here, we provide the first insights into the status and distribution of a globally important cheetah population in the 50,000 km2 Ruaha‐Rungwa landscape in southern Tanzania. We employed data from four methods (systematic camera trap surveys, sign surveys, community camera trapping, and observations by photo‐tourism guides) to improve knowledge of this understudied population. Our findings indicate that cheetah are widespread across the landscape, although they appear to exist at relatively low population densities, likely primarily due to biotic factors. Our surveys revealed an extension of confirmed geographical range of the species and provide some of the first evidence that miombo woodlands may be an important habitat for cheetah across its eastern African range. We employ these findings to identify research priorities for the species elsewhere in the region. Community camera trapping revealed that cheetah are using unprotected areas, although rarely. Finally, we show that collaborations with tourism operators can be employed to monitor cheetah populations, but also identify limitations of this method. Our results have implications for conservation of the species both in southern Tanzania and across its African range.

Threat analysis for more effective lion conservation

Hans Bauer, Amy Dickman, Guillaume Chapron, Alayne Oriol Cotterill, Samantha K. Nicholson, Claudio Sillero Zubiri, Luke Hunter, Peter Lindey and David W. Macdonald

Oryx, Published online by Cambridge University Press

Oryx journal


We use comparable 2005 and 2018 population data to assess threats driving the decline of lion Panthera leo populations, and review information on threats structured by problem tree and root cause analysis. We define 11 threats and rank their severity and prevalence. Two threats emerged as affecting both the number of lion populations and numbers within them: livestock depredation leading to retaliatory killing of lions, and bushmeat poaching leading to prey depletion. Our data do not allow determination of whether any specific threat drives declines faster than others. Of 20 local extirpations, most were associated with armed conflicts as a driver of proximate threats. We discuss the prevalence and severity of proximate threats and their drivers, to identify priorities for more effective conservation of lions, other carnivores and their prey.


Consequences matter: Compassion in conservation means caring for individuals, populations and species

Paul J Johnson, Vanessa M Adams, Doug P Armstrong, Sandra E Baker, Duan Biggs, Luigi Boitani, Alayne Cotterill, Emma Dale, Holly O’donnell, David JT Douglas, Egil Droge, John G Ewen, Ruth E Feber, Piero Genovesi, Clive Hambler, Bart J Harmsen, Lauren A Harrington, Amy Hinks, Joelene Hughes, Lydia Katsis, Andrew Loveridge, Axel Moehrenschlager, Christopher O’kane, Meshach Pierre, Steve Redpath, Lovemore Sibanda, Pritpal Soorae, Mark Stanley Price, Peter Tyrrell, Alexandra Zimmermann, Amy Dickman


Animals 9: 1115


Human activity affecting the welfare of wild vertebrates, widely accepted to be sentient, and therefore deserving of moral concern, is widespread. A variety of motives lead to the killing of individual wild animals. These include to provide food, to protect stock and other human interests, and also for sport. The acceptability of such killing is widely believed to vary with the motive and method. Individual vertebrates are also killed by conservationists. Whether securing conservation goals is an adequate reason for such killing has recently been challenged. Conventional conservation practice has tended to prioritise ecological collectives, such as populations and species, when their interests conflict with those of individuals. Supporters of the ‘Compassionate Conservation’ movement argue both that conservationists have neglected animal welfare when such conflicts arise and that no killing for conservation is justified. We counter that conservationists increasingly seek to adhere to high standards of welfare, and that the extreme position advocated by some supporters of ‘Compassionate Conservation’, rooted in virtue ethics, would, if widely accepted, lead to considerable negative effects for conservation. Conservation practice cannot afford to neglect consequences. Moreover, the do-no-harm maxim does not always lead to better outcomes for animal welfare.

Quantifying the severity of giraffe skin disease via photogrammetry analysis of camera trap data

Arthur B Muneza, Waldemar Ortiz-Calo, Craig Packer, Jeremy J Cusack, Trevor Jones, Meredith S Palmer, Alexandra Swanson, Margaret Kosmala, Amy J Dickman, David W Macdonald, Robert A Montgomery


Journal of wildlife diseases 55: 770-781


Developing techniques to quantify the spread and severity of diseases afflicting wildlife populations is important for disease ecology, animal ecology, and conservation. Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are in the midst of a dramatic decline, but it is not known whether disease is playing an important role in the broad-scale population reductions. A skin disorder referred to as giraffe skin disease (GSD) was recorded in 1995 in one giraffe population in Uganda. Since then, GSD has been detected in 13 populations in seven African countries, but good descriptions of the severity of this disease are not available. We photogrammetrically analyzed camera trap images from both Ruaha and Serengeti National parks in Tanzania to quantify GSD severity. Giraffe skin disease afflicts the limbs of giraffes in Tanzania, and we quantified severity by measuring the vertical length of the GSD lesion in relation to the total leg length. Applying the Jenks natural breaks algorithm to the lesion proportions that we derived, we classified individual giraffes into disease categories (none, mild, moderate, and severe). Scaling up to the population level, we predicted the proportion of the Ruaha and Serengeti giraffe populations with mild, moderate, and severe GSD. This study serves to demonstrate that camera traps presented an informative platform for examinations of skin disease ecology.

Trophy Hunting Bans Imperil Biodiversity

By By Amy Dickman, Rosie Cooney, Paul J. Johnson, Maxi Pia Louis, Dilys Roe and 128 signatories

Conservation frontlines

Conservation & Wildlife Management, October 2019


Trophy hunting is under pressure: There are high-profile campaigns to ban it, and several governments have legislated against . In the United States, the CECIL Act 2 would prohibit lion and elephant trophy imports from Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and restrict imports of species listed as threatened or endangered on the Endangered Species Act. In addition to the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, and France have restricted trophy imports, and the United Kingdom is under pressure to follow. Calls for hunting bans usually cite conservation concerns. However, there is compelling evidence that banning trophy hunting would negatively affect conservation.

Conservation geopolitics

Timothy Hodgetts, Dawn Burnham, Amy Dickman, Ewan A Macdonald, David W Macdonald

Conservation geopolitics

Conservation Biology 33: 250-259


We reviewed recent work concerning the impact of geopolitics on wildlife conservation (and vice versa) and identified future priorities in conservation geopolitics research. Geopolitics is understood as both an analytical focus on geopolitical practices (especially concerning the behavior) of countries with respect to territory and national security and a set of theories developed to explain and predict those behaviors. We developed a typology of core geopolitical practices of relevance to conservation: territorial practices of colonization and the management of migrations and borders, and security practices relating to military, economic, and environmental security. We identified research that considers how these practices affect conservation situations and outcomes, noting the recent emergence of conceptual developments such as “environmental geopolitics” and “geopolitical ecology” that draw on multiple fields within the social sciences to theorize the links between geopolitics and environmental management. We defined a "geopolitical perspective" as a focus on geopolitical practices combined with an explicit engagement with geopolitical theory and identified conservation situations where this perspective could contribute to analytical clarity. We suggest the most pressing questions in conservation research to which the geopolitical perspective might contribute are how political and economic differences between countries affect biodiversity outcomes, how geopolitical practices to address those differences facilitate or frustrate conservation efforts, how national borders and human and wildlife movements can be better managed for the benefit of both, and how the most effective conservation strategies can be best selected to suit existing (and future) geopolitical realities.

Creating Landscapes of Coexistence

Guy Western, David W Macdonald, Andrew J Loveridge, Amy J Dickman

Conservation & Society

Conservation & Society 17: 204-217


The range-wide decline of lions has led to their conservation becoming a top priority. Protection of free-ranging lion populations is dependent on securing space for lions but also on the ability and desire of local communities to coexist with lions. Our investigation takes a comparative and case study approach to explore the individual and societal desire to maintain current lion populations alongside communities in, or surrounding, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, and Kenya’s southern Maasailand. Using data from attitudinal questionnaire surveys, we compare the desire to maintain current lion populations as well as the prevalence and success of conservation interventions aimed at increasing human-lion coexistence. In Maasailand, 88% of the respondents expressed a desire to see current lion populations maintained, while only 42% of the respondents in Ruaha and only 5% of the respondents in Hwange expressed this desire. More respondents reported predation by lions (lion predation) on livestock in Maasailand than in Hwange; personal benefits from conservation were greatest in Maasailand; and exposure to conservation education was highest in Ruaha. The Hwange findings were confounded by Zimbabwe’s political and economic climate. In Ruaha and Maasailand, communal and individual conservation benefits influenced desired changes to lion population. Once variation between sites was controlled for, twinning personal benefits and conservation education together was most likely to increase an individual’s desire to see current lion populations maintained.

Is there an elephant in the room? A response to Batavia et al

Amy Dickman, Paul J Johnson, Michael t Sas-Rolfes, Enrico Di Minin, Andrew Loveridge, Caroline Good, Lovemore Sibanda, Ruth Feber, Lauren Harrington, Moreangels Mbizah, Alayne Cotterill, Dawn Burnham, David Macdonald

Conservation Letters

Conservation Letters; 12:e12603


The range-wide decline of lions has led to their conservation becoming a top priority. Protection of free-ranging lion populations is dependent on securing space for lions but also on the ability and desire of local communities to coexist with lions. Our investigation takes a comparative and case study approach to explore the individual and societal desire to maintain current lion populations alongside communities in, or surrounding, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, and Kenya’s southern Maasailand. Using data from attitudinal questionnaire surveys, we compare the desire to maintain current lion populations as well as the prevalence and success of conservation interventions aimed at increasing human-lion coexistence. In Maasailand, 88% of the respondents expressed a desire to see current lion populations maintained, while only 42% of the respondents in Ruaha and only 5% of the respondents in Hwange expressed this desire. More respondents reported predation by lions (lion predation) on livestock in Maasailand than in Hwange; personal benefits from conservation were greatest in Maasailand; and exposure to conservation education was highest in Ruaha. The Hwange findings were confounded by Zimbabwe’s political and economic climate. In Ruaha and Maasailand, communal and individual conservation benefits influenced desired changes to lion population. Once variation between sites was controlled for, twinning personal benefits and conservation education together was most likely to increase an individual’s desire to see current lion populations maintained.

Behavior-specific habitat selection by African lions may promote their persistence in a human-dominated landscape

Suraci, J. P., L. G. Frank, A. Oriol-Cotterill, S. Ekwanga, T. M. Williams, and C. C. Wilmers.

Ecology volume 100

Ecology volume 100; e02644


Co-occurrence with humans presents substantial risks for large carnivores, yet human-dominated landscapes are increasingly crucial to carnivore conservation as human land use continues to encroach on wildlife habitat. Flexibility in large carnivore behavior may be a primary factor mediating coexistence with people, allowing carnivores to calibrate their activity and habitat use to the perceived level of human risk. However, our understanding of how large carnivores adjust the timing and location of behaviors in response to variations in human activity across the landscape remains limited, impacting our ability to identify important habitat for populations outside of protected areas. Here we examine whether African lions (Panthera leo) modify their behavior and habitat use in response to risk of a human encounter, and whether behavior-specific habitat selection allows lions to access feeding opportunities in a human-dominated landscape in Kenya. We determined fine-scale behavioral states for lions using high-resolution GPS and accelerometer data, and then investigated behavior-specific habitat selection at multiple temporal and spatial scales (ranging from 15 minutes to 12 hours and from approximately 200 meters to several kilometers). We found that lions exhibit substantial differences in habitat selection with respect to humans based on behavioral state and time of day. During the day, when risk of human encounter is highest, lions avoided areas of high human use when resting, meandering, and feeding. However, lions specifically selected for habitat near people when feeding at night. Flexible habitat use by lions thus permits access to prey, which appear to concentrate in areas near humans. The importance of habitat near people for feeding was only apparent when analyses explicitly accounted for lion behavioral state and spatiotemporal scale, highlighting the necessity of incorporating such information when investigating human impacts on large carnivore habitat use. Our results support the contention that behavior-specific habitat selection promotes carnivore persistence in human-dominated landscapes, demonstrating the importance of considering not just whether but how large carnivores use habitat near humans when managing vulnerable populations.


Resolving a conservation dilemma: vulnerable lions eating endangered zebras

Timothy G O’Brien, Margaret F Kinnaird, Steven Ekwanga, Christopher Wilmers, Terrie Williams, Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Daniel Rubenstein, Laurence G Frank

PloS one 13: e0201983

Plos one grevy zebra.png


When predators are removed or suppressed for generations, prey populations tend to increase and when predators are re-introduced, prey densities should fall back to pre-control levels. In cases of apparent competition where there are alternate abundant and rare prey species, rare species may decline further than expected or disappear altogether. Recently, concern about the impact of recovering predator populations on wildlife in Laikipia County, Kenya, has led to questions of whether lions (Panthera leo, IUCN Red List Vulnerable) exert top-down pressure on Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi, IUCN Red List Endangered). We examined effects of lion predation on Plain’s zebra (E. quagga, IUCN Red List Near Threatened) and Grevy’s zebra populations in a 2,105 km2 area defined by lion movements. We used line transect surveys to estimate density of Grevy’s (0.71/km2) and Plain’s (15.9/km2) zebras, and satellite telemetry to measure movements for lions and both zebras. We tracked lions to potential feeding sites to estimate predation rates on zebras. We compared field-based estimates of predation rates on both zebras to random gas models of encounters that result in predation to ask if lions prey preferentially on Grevy’s zebra at a sufficient rate to drive population declines. Lions preyed on Grevy’s zebra significantly less than expected in 15 of 16 (94%) scenarios considered and lions preyed on Plain’s zebras as expected or significantly less than expected in 15 of 16 scenarios. Population trend of Grevy’s zebra indicates that the Kenya population may be stabilizing. Recruitment rate to the population has tripled since 2004, making it unlikely that lions are having an impact on Grevy’s zebras. In Laikipia County, competitive displacement by livestock (Livestock: Grevy’s zebra ratio = 864:1) and interference competition for grass with Plain’s zebra (Plain’s zebra:Grevy’s zebra ratio = 22:1) are most likely the predominant threats to Grevy’s Zebra recovery.

More than $1 billion needed annually to secure Africa’s protected areas with lions

Peter A Lindsey, Jennifer RB Miller, Lisanne S Petracca, Lauren Coad, Amy J Dickman, Kathleen H Fitzgerald, Michael V Flyman, Paul J Funston, Philipp Henschel, Samuel Kasiki, Kathryn Knights, Andrew J Loveridge, David W Macdonald, Roseline L Mandisodza-Chikerema, Sean Nazerali, Andrew J Plumptre, Riko Stevens, Hugo W Van Zyl, Luke TB Hunter

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: E10788-E10796



Protected areas (PAs) play an important role in conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services, yet their effectiveness is undermined by funding shortfalls. Using lions (Panthera leo) as a proxy for PA health, we assessed available funding relative to budget requirements for PAs in Africa’s savannahs. We compiled a dataset of 2015 funding for 282 state-owned PAs with lions. We applied three methods to estimate the minimum funding required for effective conservation of lions, and calculated deficits. We estimated minimum required funding as $978/km2 per year based on the cost of effectively managing lions in nine reserves by the African Parks Network; $1,271/km2 based on modeled costs of managing lions at ≥50% carrying capacity across diverse conditions in 115 PAs; and $2,030/km2 based on Packer et al.’s [Packer et al. (2013) Ecol Lett 16:635–641] cost of managing lions in 22 unfenced PAs. PAs with lions require a total of $1.2 to $2.4 billion annually, or ∼$1,000 to 2,000/km2, yet received only $381 million annually, or a median of $200/km2. Ninety-six percent of range countries had funding deficits in at least one PA, with 88 to 94% of PAs with lions funded insufficiently. In funding-deficit PAs, available funding satisfied just 10 to 20% of PA requirements on average, and deficits total $0.9 to $2.1 billion. African governments and the international community need to increase the funding available for management by three to six times if PAs are to effectively conserve lions and other species and provide vital ecological and economic benefits to neighboring communities.

Spatial variation in leopard (Panthera pardus) site use across a gradient of anthropogenic pressure in Tanzania's Ruaha landscape

Leandro Abade, Jeremy Cusack, Remington J Moll, Paolo Strampelli, Amy J Dickman, David W Macdonald, Robert A Montgomery

PloS one 13: e0204370

PloS one 13: e0204370


Understanding large carnivore occurrence patterns in anthropogenic landscapes adjacent to protected areas is central to developing actions for species conservation in an increasingly human-dominated world. Among large carnivores, leopards (Panthera pardus) are the most widely distributed felid. Leopards occupying anthropogenic landscapes frequently come into conflict with humans, which often results in leopard mortality. Leopards’ use of anthropogenic landscapes, and their frequent involvement with conflict, make them an insightful species for understanding the determinants of carnivore occurrence across human-dominated habitats. We evaluated the spatial variation in leopard site use across a multiple-use landscape in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape. Our study region encompassed i) Ruaha National Park, where human activities were restricted and sport hunting was prohibited; ii) the Pawaga-Idodi Wildlife Management Area, where wildlife sport hunting, wildlife poaching, and illegal pastoralism all occurred at relatively low levels; and iii) surrounding village lands where carnivores and other wildlife were frequently exposed to human-carnivore conflict related-killings and agricultural habitat conversion and development. We investigated leopard occurrence across the study region via an extensive camera trapping network. We estimated site use as a function of environmental (i.e. habitat and anthropogenic) variables using occupancy models within a Bayesian framework. We observed a steady decline in leopard site use with downgrading protected area status from the national park to the Wildlife Management Area and village lands. Our findings suggest that human-related activities such as increased livestock presence and proximity to human households exerted stronger influence than prey availability on leopard site use, and were the major limiting factors of leopard distribution across the gradient of human pressure, especially in the village lands outside Ruaha National Park. Overall, our study provides valuable information about the determinants of spatial distribution of leopards in human-dominated landscapes that can help inform conservation strategies in the borderlands adjacent to protected areas.

Combining biological and socio‐political criteria to set spatial conservation priorities for the endangered African wild dog

T Kuiper, AJ Dickman, AE Hinks, C Sillero‐Zubiri, EA Macdonald, DW Macdonald

Animal Conservation 21: 376-386

Animal Conservation 21: 376-386


The effectiveness of biodiversity conservation projects is influenced by socio-political context, a reality overlooked by traditional prioritization schemes that use only measures of biological value and threat when deciding where to invest limited conservation resources. We combined ecological and socio-political criteria to illuminate options for prioritizing investment in African wild dog Lycaon pictus conservation among countries and subpopulations. Countries and subpopulations were assigned scores for conservation priority (based on their wild dog populations) and conservation likelihood (based on their governance quality and other indicators of the likelihood of effective conservation action for wild dogs). Seven of the 19 wild dog countries scored above the median value for both priority and likelihood and supported 74% of the total wild dog population. Investment in these ‘higher priority, higher likelihood’ countries may offer the greatest returns on conservation investment. The intention of this study is not, however, to be prescriptive, nor to suggest abandoning disadvantaged countries, but to provide a tool for understanding and managing trade-offs between where conservation is most needed for wild dogs and where it is most feasible. The prioritization framework presented in this paper may easily and profitably be applied to other taxa, extending the scope of our results.

Improving the role of global conservation treaties in addressing contemporary threats to lions

Timothy Hodgetts, Melissa Lewis, Hans Bauer, Dawn Burnham, Amy Dickman, Ewan Macdonald, David Macdonald, Arie Trouwborst

Biodiversity and conservation 27: 2747-2765

Biodiversity and conservation 27: 2747-2765


Despite their iconic status, lion (Panthera leo) populations continue to decline across the majority of their range. In the light of the recent decision (in October 2017) to add lions to the Appendices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), this paper identifies the new and existing legal protections afforded to lions through five global treaties, and maps these protections against the most critical contemporary threats facing the species. It thus offers a new analysis of the CMS listing, and draws on existing legal reviews, to highlight the ways in which global treaties offer differing forms of protection for lions. It then combines multiple concordant assessments of lion populations, to highlight nine categories of threat: human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, human encroachment, trophy hunting, trade in lion bones, unpredictable environmental events, socio-economic factors, policy failures, and governance/institutional weakness. The paper assesses how the various treaties each address these different categories of threat. The analysis identifies two pathways for improving legal protection: expanding the application of global treaties in respect of lions and their habitats (the paper considers the CMS listing in these terms), and improving the implementation of treaty commitments through local and national-scale actions. Furthermore, it identifies local implementation challenges that include the local knowledge of rules, compliance with rules and enforcement capacity, alongside the variety in local contexts and situations, and suggests where global treaties might provide support in meeting these challenges. We suggest that this analysis has wider implications for how treaty protection can and is utilised to protect various species of large-bodied, wide-ranging animals.

The Costs and Causes of Human-Cheetah Conflict on Livestock and Game Farms

Amy Dickman, Niki A. Rust, Lorraine K. Boast, Mary Wykstra, Louisa Richmond-Coggan, Rebecca Klein, Moses Selebatso, Maurus Msuha, Laurie Marker 

Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation, Chapter 13: 173-189

Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation, Chapter 13: 173-189


Cheetahs rely heavily upon unprotected land for their habitat requirements, so frequently come into conflict with humans because of their potential to predate upon livestock and farmed game. However, the costs imposed by cheetahs vary, and these costs do not always have a clear-cut relationship with the intensity of conflict caused. Here, we describe the direct and indirect costs of human-cheetah conflict on farmers and cheetahs. We conclude that conflict with cheetahs is influenced by many factors, including environmental (such as climate and seasonality) and social/cultural (such as power, vulnerability, and group norms). Ultimately, whether cheetahs are tolerated by humans largely depends on the perceived costs and benefits of their presence. We therefore provide an overview of popular approaches used to mitigate the costs of cheetah presence and suggest future strategies that could help improve benefits and encourage long-term human–cheetah coexistence.

Use of Livestock Guarding Dogs to Reduce Human-Cheetah Conflict

Amy Dickman, Gail Potgieter, Jane Horgan, Kelly Stoner, Rebecca Klein, Jeannine McManus, Laurie Marker

Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation, Chapter 15: 209-221

Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation, Chapter 13: 173-189


Mitigating conflict between livestock farmers and cheetahs is key to conserving the species. Livestock guarding dogs (LGDs) have been used to reduce livestock losses to carnivores around the world. In Africa, cheetah conservation organizations have introduced purebred Anatolian Shepherds, encouraged the use of local dogs, and have experimented with crossbreeding local with purebred dogs. The resulting research has provided insights into how LGDs work under African conditions, guarding their livestock against the large carnivore guild. In this chapter, we examine the effectiveness of LGDs, both in terms of reducing livestock losses in a cost-effective manner and preventing retaliatory killing of cheetahs and other carnivores. Furthermore, we discuss the various factors contributing to LGD effectiveness, for example, behavioral training, working conditions, and breeding. Finally, we examine the future of LGDs as a means for human-cheetah conflict mitigation.

A sideways look at conservation and consistency in tourism policy

Amy Dickman, Craig Packer, Paul J Johnson, David W Macdonald

Conservation Biology 32: 744-746


Wildlife-based land management should be based on consistent principles for promoting sustainability.

Learning from the past to prepare for the future: felids face continued threat from declining prey

Christopher James Sandom, S Faurby, J‐C Svenning, D Burnham, A Dickman, AE Hinks, EA Macdonald, WJ Ripple, J Williams, DW Macdonald

Ecography 41: 140-152

Ecography 41: 140-152


Many contemporary species of large-felids (> 15 kg) feed upon prey that are  endangered, raising concern that prey population declines (defaunation) will  further threaten felids. We assess the threat that defaunation presents by investigating a late Quaternary (LQ), ‘present-natural’ counterfactual scenario. Our present-natural counterfactual is based on predicted ranges of mammals today in the absence of any impacts of modern humans Homo sapiens through time. Data from our present-natural counterfactual are used to understand firstly how mega-fauna extinction has impacted felid communities to date and secondly to quantify the threat to large-felid communities posed by further declines in prey richness in the future. Our purpose is to identify imminent risks to biodiversity conservation and their cascading consequences and, specifically, to indicate the importance of preserving prey diversity. We pursue two lines of enquiry; first, we test whether the loss of prey species richness is a potential cause of large-felid extinction and range loss. Second, we explore what can be learnt from the large-scale large-mammal LQ losses, particularly in the Americas and Europe, to assess the threat any further decline in prey species presents to large-felids today, particularly in Africa and Asia. Large-felid species richness was considerably greater under our present-natural counterfactual scenario compared to the current reality. In total, 86% of cells recorded at least one additional felid species in our present-natural counterfactual, and up to 4–5 more large-felid species in 10% of the cells. A significant positive correlation was recorded between the number of prey species lost and the number of large-felid species lost from a cell. Extant felids most at risk include lion and Sunda clouded leopard, as well as leopard and cheetah in parts of their range. Our results draw attention to the continuation of a trend of megafauna decline that began with the emergence of hominins in the Pleistocene.


Don't forget to look down–collaborative approaches to predator conservation

Steve M. Redpath, John D. C. Linnell, Marco Festa-Bianchet, Luigi Boitani, Nils Bunnefeld, Amy Dickman, R. J. Gutiérrez, R. J. Irvine, Maria Johansson, Aleksandra Majić, Barry J. McMahon, Simon Pooley, Camilla Sandström, Annelie Sjölander-Lindqvist, Ketil Skogen, Jon E. Swenson, Arie Trouwborst, Juliette Young, E. J. Milner-Gulland

Biological reviews 92; 2157-2163

Identifying ambassador species for conservation marketing

E.A.Macdonald, A.Hinks, D.J.Weiss, A.Dickman, D.Burnham, C.J.Sandom, Y.Malhi, D.W.Macdonald

Global Ecology and Conservation 12; Pages 204-214

Lions, trophy hunting and beyond: knowledge gaps and why they matter

David W. Macdonald, Andrew J. Loveridge, Amy Dickman, Paul J. Johnson, Kim S. Jacobsen, Byron Du Preez

Mammal Review; 247-253

International law and lions (Panthera leo): understanding and improving the contribution of wildlife treaties to the conservation and sustainable use of an iconic carnivore

Arie Trouwborst, Melissa Lewis, Dawn Burnham, Amy Dickman, Amy Hinks, Timothy Hodgetts, Ewan A. Macdonald, David W. Macdonald

Nature Conservation 21: 83-128

Deconstructed cat communities: quantifying the threat to felids from prey defaunation

C. J. Sandom, J. Williams, D. Burnham, A. J. Dickman, A. E. Hinks, E. A. Macdonald, D. W. Macdonald

Diversity and Distributions 23: 667-679

An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human–predator relations

S. Pooley, M. Barua, W. Beinart, A. Dickman, G. Holmes, J. Lorimer, A.J. Loveridge, D.W. Macdonald, G. Marvin, S. Redpath, C. Sillero-Zubiri, A. Zimmermann, E.J. Milner-Gulland

Conservation Biology 31; 513-523

Revealing kleptoparasitic and predatory tendencies in an African mammal community using camera traps: a comparison of spatiotemporal approaches

Jeremy J. Cusack, Amy J. Dickman, Monty Kalyahe, J. Marcus Rowcliffe, Chris Carbone, David W. MacDonald, Tim Coulson

OIKOS 126; 812-822

The performance of African protected areas for lions and their prey

P.A.Lindsey, L.S.Petracca, P.J.Funston, H.Bauer, A.Dickman, K.Everatt, M.Flyman, P.Henschel, A.E.Hinks, S.Kasiki, A.Loveridge, D.W.Macdonald, R.Mandisodza, W.Mgoola, S.M.Miller, S.Nazerali, L.Siege, K.Uiseb, L.T.B.Hunter

Biological Conservation 209; 137-149

Relative efforts of countries to conserve world’s megafauna

Peter A.Lindsey, Guillaume Chapron, Lisanne S. Petracca, Dawn Burnham, Matthew W. Hayward, Philipp Henschel, Amy E. Hinks, Stephen T. Garnett, David W. Macdonald, Ewan A. Macdonald, William J. Ripple, Kerstin Zander, Amy Dickman

Global Ecology and Conservation 10; Pages 243-252

Conserving the world's megafauna and biodiversity: the fierce urgency of now

William J. Ripple, Guillaume Chapron, José Vicente López-Bao, Sarah M. Durant, David W. Macdonald, Peter A. Lindsey, Elizabeth L. Bennett, Robert L. Beschta, Jeremy T. Bruskotter, Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, Richard T. Corlett, Chris T. Darimont, Amy J. Dickman, Rodolfo Dirzo, Holly T. Dublin, James A. Estes, Kristoffer T. Everatt, Mauro Galetti, Varun R. Goswami, Matt W. Hayward, Simon Hedges, Michael Hoffmann, Luke T. B. Hunter, Graham I. H. Kerley, Mike Letnic, Taal Levi, Fiona Maisels, John C. Morrison, Michael Paul Nelson, Thomas M. Newsome, Luke Painter, Robert M. Pringle, Christopher J. Sandom, John Terborgh, Adrian Treves, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, John A. Vucetich, Aaron J. Wirsing, Arian D. Wallach, Christopher Wolf, Rosie Woodroffe, Hillary Young, Li Zhang

BioScience 67; 197-200

From attitudes to actions: predictors of lion killing by Maasai warriors

Leela Hazzah, Alistair Bath, Stephanie Dolrenry, Amy Dickman, Laurence Frank 

PloS One; e0170796


Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: the ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans

Scent Lure Effect on Camera-Trap Based Leopard Density Estimates

Alexander Richard Braczkowski, Guy Andrew Balme, Amy Dickman, Julien Fattebert, Paul Johnson, Tristan Dickerson, David Whyte Macdonald, Luke Hunter

PloS One; e0151033

Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: the ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans

Money, Myths and Man-Eaters: Complexities of Human–Wildlife Conflict

Amy J. Dickman, Leela Hazzah

Problematic Wildlife: 339-356

Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: the ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans

Aging traits and sustainable trophy hunting of African lions

Jennifer RB Miller, Guy Balme, Peter A Lindsey, Andrew J Loveridge, Matthew S Becker, Colleen Begg, Henry Brink, Stephanie Dolrenry, Jane E Hunt, Ingela Jansson, David W Macdonald, Roseline L Mandisodza-Chikerema, Alayne Oriol Cotterill, Craig Packer, Daniel Rosengren, Ken Stratford, Martina Trinkel, Paula A White, Christiaan Winterbach, Hanlie EK Winterbach, Paul J Funston

Biological Conservation 201; 160-168

Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: the ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans

The global decline of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and what it means for conservation

S.M. Durant, N. Mitchell, R. Groom, N. Pettorelli, A. Ipavec, A.P. Jacobson, R. Woodroffe, M. Böhm, L.T.B. Hunter, M.S. Becker, F. Broekuis, S. Bashir, L. Andresen, O. Aschendorn, M. Beddiaf, F. Belbachir, A. Belbachir-Bazi, A. Berbash, I. Brandao de Matos Machado, C. Breitenmoser, M. Chege, D. Cilliers, H. Davies-Mostert, H.H. de Longh, A.J. Dickman, F. Ezekiel, M.S. Farhadinia, P. Funston, P. Henschel, J. Horgan, H. Jowkar, R. Klein, P.A. Lindsey, J. M'soka, K. Marnewick, J. Melzheimer, J. Merkle, M. Mshuha, H. O'Neill, M. Parker, G. Purchase, S. Sahailou, Y. Saidu, A. Samna, A. Schmidt-Küntzel, E. Selebatso, E.A. Sogbohossou, A. Soultan, E. Stone, E. van der Meer, R.J. van Vuuren, M. Wykstra, K. Young-Overton

PNAS 114; 528-533


Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: the ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans

Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Marion Valeix, Laurence G. Frank, Corinna Riginos and David W. Macdonald

OIKOS 124; 1263–1273

Who Bites the Bullet First? The Susceptibility of Leopards Panthera pardus to Trophy Hunting

Alex Richard Braczkowski, Guy Andrew Balme, Amy Dickman, David Whyte Macdonald, Julien Fattebert, Tristan Dickerson, Paul Johnson, Luke Hunter

PloS One; e0123100

Rosettes, Remingtons and Reputation: Establishing Potential Determinants of Leopard (Panthera pardus) Trophy Prices Across Africa

Alexander R. Braczkowski, Guy A. Balme, Amy Dickman, David W. Macdonald, Paul J. Johnson, Peter A. Lindsey, Luke T.B. Hunter

African Journal of Wildlife Research, 45(2);158-168

Random versus Game Trail-Based Camera Trap Placement Strategy for Monitoring Terrestrial Mammal Communities

Jeremy J. Cusack, Amy J. Dickman, J. Marcus Rowcliffe, Chris Carbone, David W. Macdonald, Tim Coulson

PloS One; e0126373

Applying a random encounter model to estimate lion density from camera traps in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Jeremy J. Cusack, Alexandra Swanson, Tim Coulson, Craig Packer, Chris Carbone, Amy J. Dickman, Margaret Kosmala, Chris Lintott, J. Marcus Rowcliffe

The Journal of Wildlife Management 79; 1014-1021

Priorities for global felid conservation

Amy J Dickman , Amy E Hinks , Ewan A Macdonald , Dawn Burnham , David W Macdonald 

Conservation Biology 29; 854-864

The moral basis for conservation: how is it affected by culture?

Amy Dickman, Paul J Johnson, Freya van Kesteren, David W Macdonald

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13; 325-331

Developing fencing policies for dryland ecosystems

Sarah M. Durant, Matthew S. Becker, Scott Creel, Sultana Bashir, Amy J. Dickman, Roseline C. Beudels-Jamar, Laly Lichtenfeld, Ray Hilborn, Jake Wall, George Wittemyer, et al

Journal of Applied Ecology 52; 544-551

Spatiotemporal patterns of lion space use in a human-dominated landscape

A. Oriol-Cotterill, D. W. Macdonald, M. Valeix, S. Ekwanga, L. G. Frank

Animal Behaviour 101; 27-39


Assessing the relative importance of landscape and husbandry factors in determining large carnivore depredation risk in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape

L. Abade, D.W. Macdonald, A.J. Dickman

Biological Conservation 180; 241-248

Using Landscape and Bioclimatic Features to Predict the Distribution of Lions, Leopards and Spotted Hyaenas in Tanzania's Ruaha Landscape

Leandro Abade, David W. Macdonald, Amy J. Dickman

PloS One; e0096261

Carnivores, culture and ‘contagious conflict’: Multiple factors influence perceived problems with carnivores in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape

Amy J.Dickman, Leela Hazzah, Chris Carbone, Sarah M Durant

Biological Conservation 178; 19-27


Behavioural adjustments of lion (Panthera Leo) in response to risk of human-caused mortality

Alayne Cotterill

University of Oxford

Conserving large populations of lions – the argument for fences has holes

S. Creel, M. S. Becker, S. M. Durant, J. M'Soka, W. Matandiko, A. J. Dickman, et at

Ecology Letters 16; 1413

The human dimension in addressing conflict with large carnivores

Amy Dickman, Silvio Marchini, Michael Manfredo

Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2; 110-126


From cheetahs to chimpanzees: a comparative review of the drivers of human-carnivore conflict and human-primate conflict

Amy J Dickman

Folia Primatologica 83; 377-387


A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human–carnivore coexistence

Amy J. Dickman, Ewan A. Macdonald, and David W. Macdonald

PNAS 108; 13937-13944


Complexities of conflict: the importance of considering social factors for effectively resolving human–wildlife conflict

A. J. Dickman

Animal Conservation 13; 458-466

Past, present and future of cheetah in Tanzania: from long term study to conservation strategy

Sarah M Durant, A J Dickman, T Maddox, Margaret Waweru, Tatianna Caro, Nathalie Pettorelli

Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids; 373-392