Niassa Carnivore Project

Niassa National Reserve (NNR) is the largest protected area in Mozambique and holds the country’s largest population of animals. It is an area of critical importance for conservation efforts involving large carnivores, in particular African lions and African wild dogs, which reside here. To protect these last critical populations, the Niassa Carnivore Project (NCP) works in partnership with the Mozambican Government and ANAC (the Mozambique Government’s National Administration for Conservation Areas), 42 local communities and tourism operators inside the NNR. NCP believes in scaling efforts through collaboration and leadership. The specific mission of their 100-strong Mozambican team is to find ways for large carnivores and people to live together so that both can thrive. There are 800-1,000 lions and 60,000 people living here in this immense wilderness area, and so coexistence is essential. NCP is part of the community, and their approach is not “fortress conservation”, but “community conservation”, where local people are intimately involved in all their conservation programs. It is not possible to stop bushmeat hunting, illegal mining and illegal trade in animal parts through anti-poaching without opening a door to alternative livelihoods and alternative protein sources. Dr Colleen Begg, the NCP’s Co-Founder and Director, says, their work would not be possible without funding from donors such as Gemfields. “Gemfields is helping us to do conservation better by specifically supporting our alternative livelihoods programmes, such as Mbamba Village Kushirika craft group, beekeeping and beehive fences to reduce elephant crop raids, conservation tourism through a community conservation agreement, small livestock production and agroforestry. This not only improves the wellbeing of people and supports development while reducing the specific threats to lions, but it also provides a strong incentive for conservation to be the dominant use for land in the area and builds tolerance for wild animals.”