Lovemore’s Doctorate

PROBLEM

Lovemore requires funding to study

We would like to help Lovemore to further his studies and proceed onto doing a Doctorate with the prestigious Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Oxford University) in order to improve his knowledge on wildlife to try and mitigate the conflict.

Lovemore is eager to improve his understanding on Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation measures from around the globe, particularly Africa, so as to develop approaches to protect and effectively conserve Zimbabwe’s natural biodiversity for the benefit of his community. Oxford University is a world renowned institution with a great academic history that dates 500 years back and the academic certificates awarded are internationally recognized. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit is a research institution within Oxford University and internationally recognized as a “world class” academic centre comprising of a group of researchers and conservationists who share the same values and face similar issues in the study sites they are involved in across the globe. A Doctorate with WildCRU is not only important for Lovemore’s personal development but also for his credibility and reputational standing in the international scientific community. This qualification will enhance his knowledge and understanding in important wildlife conservation skills, such as analytic and scientific writing, and improve knowledge of wildlife to better mitigate the conflict and allow him to make an ongoing contribution to conserving Africa’s wildlife.

The Main focus of Lovemore’s study is to assess how environmental attributes (rainfall and natural prey density and movement patterns), animal factors (disease, age and body condition) and herd dynamics (group size and herd composition) can be important factors predisposing livestock to depredation by large predators and this is crucial for optimal mitigation of Human Wildlife Conflict.

SOLUTION

With your help we can raise funding to make Lovemore’s dream a reality by assisting him in getting his qualification which will help improve his understanding on Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation measures from around the globe, so as to develop approaches to protect and effectively conserve Zimbabwe’s natural biodiversity for the benefit of his community.

A Message from Lovemore

My name is Lovemore Sibanda and I am from Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. I am proudly Zimbabwean and I love wildlife. My passion for wildlife started during my high school days and since then, I never looked back.

I joined the Hwange Lion Research project in August 2010 as the project’s community liaison officer and since 2012, supported by a grant from Mrs Beazley and the Fairbairn Trust, as Long Shields Lion Guardian Project Coordinator/ Assistant Manager. Long Shields Lion guardian is a community based conservation project that protects Zimbabwe’s lions by reducing the interaction between lions and livestock which often results in retaliatory killing by local farmers whenever livestock is killed by providing an early warning system. Part of my duties and also roles of the Long Shields Lion Guardian Project include: (1) working closely with local communities adjacent to Hwange National Park to recover stray domestic stock, livestock is a valued asset and a huge investment for many local people, (2) chasing lions out of communal lands back to the National Park using vuvuzelas etc., in efforts to reduce livestock losses to the lions. This reduces incidental lion poisoning and snaring in retaliation for livestock losses and to provide an early warning system to local herders in the event a satellite collared lion is in their vicinity.

I am also the author of the comic book “Vusa the Lion Guardian”, an educational comic booklet on Human Wildlife Conflict produced in partnership with the SATIB Conservation Trust (sponsored by Mrs Beazley/ Fairbairn Trust), aimed at improving attitudes and perceptions of school children towards wildlife conservation. The comic booklet was distributed to 10 of our local primary schools and I am currently analyzing responses recorded in questionnaires to assess the effectiveness of the book in improving attitudes and perceptions of the school children.

I am also fascinated by research; for my undergraduate degree, I used Hwange Lion Research data on conflict incidents between livestock owners and lions to investigate the effects of cow bells in increasing the risk of livestock predation by spotted hyaenas. Results from the survey suggest that animals wearing bells have three times higher risk of being attacked by hyaenas when left out at night. Based on our findings, we advised local people to reduce numbers of animals wearing bells in a herd.

Lovemore's Achievements to Date

Academic qualifications and Aspirations

I graduated with a Bachelors’ degree in Livestock and Wildlife Management in 2011 at Midlands State University, Zimbabwe (Awarded a University Book Prize for overall best student). Recently, I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice (Oxford University), passing with a Distinction.

During the diploma course I did two research projects. The first project was the analysis of a questionnaire survey (Hwange Lion Research data) to understand attitudes of local communities, living on the edge of Hwange National Park, towards lions, leopards and hyaenas. Results from the survey suggest that local communities have negative attitudes towards large predators and this is detrimental to the survival of already threatened species, such as lions living outside protected areas. Factors such as conflict intensity, level of education and proportion of livestock lost were identified as the best predictors of attitudes. Hence the need to work closely with communities in improving their attitudes through conservation education in schools and community outreach, to mitigate conflict with large predators. For my second project, I used data from a camera trap survey undertaken by Hwange Lion Research, to estimate spotted hyaena densities, based on natural marking on their coat, in two blocks within Hwange NP. Currently, I am working diligently and hope to get the two articles published in reputable journals.

With four years of experience working with communities on Human Wildlife Conflict related issues, my major strength is the ability to speak all three local language dialects fluently and a good understanding of the community cultural beliefs and values. I hope to further my studies and proceed onto doing a Doctorate with the prestigious Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Oxford University) in order to improve knowledge on wildlife to try and mitigate the conflict.

 

Expected outcomes of the study

These results for this study include:

  1. Increasing peoples’ awareness of factors causing livestock predation.
  2. Lessening retaliatory killing of wild carnivores.
  3. Reporting to park managers and policy makers, aiming to provide guidance on carnivore conservation.
  4. Sharing best-practice livestock protection methods with local communities.
  5. Disease screening in cattle and development of a map of disease surveillance for the Veterinary department which will be used to inform policy.

After I complete my studies I intend to come back to Zimbabwe and be a prominent ecologist and social scientist, and save the country’s prestigious wildlife, though hard work, commitment and my unwavering passion for wildlife.

Progress To Date

  • £28,000
  • £56,000
  • £84,000
  • £112,000
May Target

With your help we can raise funding to make Lovemore’ s dream a reality. By assisting him in getting his qualification he will improve his understanding on Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation measures from around the globe, and so develop approaches to protect and conserve Zimbabwe’s natural biodiversity for the benefit of his community.

Long Shields Lion Guardians

You may also be interested in