Large Carnivores such as lions, hyaenas, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs as well as medium sized carnivores such as jackals and golden cats are all threatened by the increasing human populations in the Albertine Rift. As human population density has increased, the edges of the protected areas have become increasingly hard with human cultivation forming a fixed boundary around many of the protected areas in the Albertine Rift. Those carnivores that can take domestic livestock, particularly lions, hyaenas and leopards are most threatened because people do not want to have them around their homesteads. In the landscapes of the Albertine Rift these species are regularly poisoned in retaliation for livestock losses and the poisoning event also kill other species such as hyaenas and vultures which scavenge on the poisoned carcasses. WCS has targeted the conservation of these carnivores, particularly lions and vultures in the Greater Virunga Landscape together with the Murchison Falls National Park, because it is clear their numbers have been declining, yet they form an important part of ecology of these ecosystems, removing sick and injured animals (thereby reducing disease spread) as well as being important components of the national tourism industry and important for the economy of Uganda.
We have undertaken surveys of lions and hyaenas using play-back methods of distress calls of prey animals which show numbers as few as 140 lions in the Queen Elizabeth Park and 130 in Murchison Falls Park together with 210 and 40 hyaenas respectively. These are all very low numbers and while there are a few lions and hyaenas in Virunga Park they probably don’t increase the population size greatly. There is a need to monitor and manage these populations closely if they are to remain viable.