How Bomas Protect Zambia’s Lions

By Lulu Chuulu and Evans Nsende
Human-Wildlife Conflict and Environmental Education Coordinator; Southern Greater Kafue Ecosystem Program Manager

Lion in Zambia

It’s quite the paradox — when we protect goats and cattle, we also save lions. But in Africa, where we work to protect a variety of different cat species, including cheetahs, leopards and, of course, the largest of the African cats, the lion, this is true.

In our projects around the world, Panthera knows that preventing cat-livestock conflict is critical to peaceful human-cat coexistence, in hopes of reducing retaliatory killings by humans. For example, in Brazil, Panthera’s teams have constructed cattle pens that have successfully warded off hungry jaguars. In Chile, we are working to install Foxlights and train herding dogs to protect local livestock from pumas, in order to foster coexistence between these cats and the local population. In Zambia, this trend continues. Our livestock predation prevention strategy is the construction of bomas — corrals containing various livestock that are proven to be lion-proof, and protected from other big carnivores such as leopards and hyenas.

Boma with cattle

Working in partnership with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, community members and traditional leadership, we have begun to build a series of bomas in the proposed Inyasemu Community Conservancy area of the country, which contains the Kanimbwa, Sibbulo, Mulanga and Katemwa communities. Bomas have already been built in Sibbulo and Mulanga, where lions are known to be present.

Built through the strength of local labor and with local materials, the bomas accommodate a large number of goats and cattle. The goat boma currently accommodates 50 goats, and the two cattle bomas contain 70 and 64 cows, respectively. With these in place, community members hoped that their livestock would be safeguarded from local carnivores.

And their hopes were confirmed. To date, there have been no reported attacks on livestock since the bomas were constructed in these specific places. Furthermore, there have been no attacks on humans, either. While lion spoors have been found near the bomas, no livestock has been eaten, proving that the bomas are indeed doing their job!

Thanks to these successes, we plan to construct more bomas in Mulanga, Sibbulo, Katemwa and the Bombwe area, and are exploring building mobile bomas, as well. We move forward, encouraged that the bomas now standing prevented lion attacks on livestock. Thanks to these bomas, we now may see a decrease in retaliatory killings of carnivores in retribution for attacks on livestock. Thanks to these bomas, local communities are developing a strong stewardship of carnivores within and around their villages, while also reducing the costs of living with carnivores. So, the paradox does hold — when we protect livestock, lions are also protected.

Learn more about lions.