Carnivore Conservation Programme



This projects co-ordinates relocation strategies that will ensure the long term demographic and genetic integrity of large carnivores in southern Africa. This will ultimately result in an increase in the resident range of large carnivores.

The five reserve management clusters are located in the Lowveld (Limpopo, Mpumulanga), the Waterberg (Limpopo, North West), the Kalahari (North West, Northern Cape), the Eastern Cape (which also includes 3 Western Cape reserves) and KwaZulu-Natal. This project will expand to different geographic areas including other southern African countries.


  • Cheetahs occur in small fenced reserves in the following South African biomes: Savanna (34 reserves), Thicket (6 reserves), Grassland (4 reserves), Nama Karoo (3 reserves), Fynbos (2 reserves) and Succulent Karoo (1 reserves).
  • Wild Dogs occur in small fenced reserves in the Savanna biome (10 reserve)
  • Spotted Hyaena: future target.

South Africa is one of the few areas in Africa where many carnivore species are remaining stable in numbers and some are increasing. This is largely due to the success of the managed metapopulation approach to large carnivore conservation. This means however that large portions of our large carnivore population occur in smaller, fragmented reserves and require intensive management at a national level to ensure their viability. This is done through:

  • Implementing a co-ordinated relocation strategy that ensures the long term genetic and demographic integrity of the metapopulation.
  • Ensuring effective and responsible population management tools are used to prevent local under and overpopulations.
  • Developing and implementing best-practice guidelines for all aspects of the relocations, holding and management of large carnivores.
  • Ensuring support for the process at all levels from reserve managers, tourists, conservation workers, local communities and government officials
  • Investigating the opportunities for natural dispersal of animals between reserves including looking at viability of dispersal, incentives for landowners and barriers to implementation.

In the long term this project will increase the resident range of large carnivores in South Africa by developing dispersal corridors in areas where human population density is low and reserves are in close proximity to each other. Opportunities exist in other southern African countries for the recolonisation of areas where large carnivores have been extirpated. These areas will be identified with in country partners and we can offer expertise for these projects and animals where this is appropriate.