Our rapidly changing world presents unfamiliar challenges, from a changing climate to human-driven habitat conversion. Carnivores, especially larger species, can be higly sensitive to such changes, and because of their position at the top of the food web, their globally declining populations can cause major shifts in the ecosystems they live in.

Consequently, as land uses shift and human-wildlife conflict is aggravated, it is becoming increasingly pertinent to understand the factors driving carnivore distribution and abundance, across land- use types.

Study area

The Greater Etosha Landscape is home to a complex carnivore guild, including large carnivores such as cheetah, leopard and lion, as well as hyaena and a variety of smaller carnivorous mammal species. This landscape consists of a matrix of land management systems (such as National Park, privtae free-hold farms and conmmunal lands), each exerting different pressures on resident human and wildlife populations.

That is why the ORC has partnered with the Etosha Ecological Institute to develop a ground- breaking long-term research programme focussed on carnivores - the Greater Etosha Carnivore Programme. Through this large-scale collaborative effort, involving numerous national and international partners, we are seeking improved insights into carnivore behaviour and habitat use in the Greater Etosha Landscape and what that means in the context of co-existence and landscape changes.and habitat use in the Greater Etosha Landscape and what that means in the context of co-existence and landscape changes.


Study area: Etosha National Park and a 40km buffer around it

Duration: Ongoing since 2021

Research framework

In this programme, our aim is to understand what factors are driving the distribution and abundance of canrivores in this complex landscape. We will focus on the role played by prey, but also diseases and intraguild intercations as well as humans in affecting these 13 carvnivores species.

To date, our research efforts have prioritised the study of larger species due to their crucial role in ecosystems, their tourism value, and their potential involvement in conflicts with human populations. We have, for example, fitted lions and spotted hyaenas with GPS collars to track their movements in and around Etosha. This will be use to study their ecology and sociality inside Etosha, but will also help determine factors driving human-wildlife conflict along the Park’s periphery. Additionally, we have launched citizen science initiatives to collect photographic data of leopards and cheetahs, allowing us to identify individuals and estimate population sizes. These findings are critical first steps towards effective carnivore monitoring, management, and conservation.

Species of interest

Carnivore diversity in the Greater Etosha Landscape

Programme partners

Research Partners