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The program has a dual mission:
- First, to use rigorous scientific inquiry to acquire essential knowledge regarding the behavioral ecology and communication systems of the African wild dog, cheetah, leopard, lion, and spotted hyena, and to apply this knowledge to promote solutions for the preservation of Africa's large predators and their habitats and;
- Second, to link conservation and environmental issues to decision making in the ongoing development of rural Botswana.
- To promote the sustainability of threatened and endangered carnivore species and their habitats in Botswana through research, education and management.
- To support ongoing successful management programs and to develop and apply new techniques that sustainably protect threatened carnivores in their natural habitats and ecosystems.
- To train and mentor the people of Botswana to be the conservationists and wildlife custodians of the future.
Background and History
Founded as the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project in 1989, the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT) has expanded to cover all the large carnivore species in Botswana. It is one of the longest running large predator research projects in Africa and one of only a handful of its caliber worldwide. BPCT research on wild dogs has made it abundantly clear that the health and welfare of the entire predator population is a key indication of overall health of the ecosystem. The Government of Botswana, also acknowledging that appropriate and necessary resource management cannot be undertaken in the absence of accurate information about its natural resources, has entrusted BPCT with the task of leading northern Botswana’s conservation and research initiatives on all large carnivores and their associated habitats. The Okavango Delta, where most of BPCT’s research takes place, is a freshwater wetland of global importance. It is the largest Ramsar (International Convention on Wetlands) site on earth and was granted IUCN world heritage status by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Achievements and Goals
The Wild Dog Research Project was run successfully on a shoestring for nearly two decades and the achievements in terms of program development speak for themselves. Broader achievements include:
- Changing public perception of the previously maligned African wild dog
- Providing the scientific community with previously unknown behavioral ecology data
- Providing the Government of Botswana with accurate information about its natural resources
- Effectively influencing national and international predator conservation policies
- Building a strong rapport with the community to grow the local and national conservation ethos
Research and science is a prerequisite to doing effective conservation. Without information from focused research, we can not address nor even identify the important questions necessary for sustainable management. Without conservation, we cannot change.
BPCT’s overall goal is to continue to use rigorous scientific inquiry to acquire essential knowledge and to apply this knowledge to promote solutions for the preservation of Africa's large predators and their habitats. We will continue to do this through:
- Providing accurate information to Government of Botswana on all large predators
- Developing applied conservation management tools. This includes the BioBoundary Project with an aim to supply a synthetic, biologically relevant boundary that will limit the movement of free ranging carnivores and thus provide an important conflict minimization tool.
- Empowering young citizens of Botswana to be effective custodians of their natural resources through experience and mentoring.
The Botswana Predator Conservation Trust has earned a global reputation for excellence in science, and a local reputation for commitment to Botswana’s wildlife resources. BPCT’s combination of pure and applied research with education, training, community involvement, and conservation strategy promise huge rewards.