Herders Training Course first trial, 2018

The herders training course first trial was the first phase of LEC and Botswana University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (BUAN)’s long term pastoral farmers empowerment programme. The programme aims to build capacity and empower local farmers and herders with relevant skills to manage natural resources at community level. The resources include livestock, range resources, wildlife (including wild carnivores) and water.

The herders training course is divided into three categories.
1) The introductory course,
2) intermediate course and
3) advanced level course.
The first trial course LEC and BUAN hosted on from the 31st of January to the 2nd of February was the introductory course and it aimed at testing teaching methods, assessing the relevance of the content and gauging the receptivity of content by the participating famers and herders. There were 25 herders who participated in the trial. LEC and BUAN also brought local graphics artists to the trial so that they could benchmark for a future possibility of teaching the content through simplified graphics.

Venue: Kungwane cattle post, Kweneng, Botswana
The first day of the trial was more of an exploratory phase, where facilitators and herders talked about their expectations from the course and how they think it must be taught. The module for the day was ecology & conservation. Farmers and herders had the opportunity to learn about food chain, nutrient cycle, pasture management, and general relationships between living things. The module was interactive, with farmers and herders asking questions and participating actively.

The second day was about non-lethal control and management of carnivores in communal lands. The module started with spoor identification of problem carnivores in LEC study area. Surprisingly most of the herders could not differentiate between different carnivores. Farmers expressed mixed reactions to some of the suggested control measures such as translocation and use of deterrents but generally they agreed that there is need to protect available populations.

The last module was about livestock management and cattle post development. This module emphasised the need to have measures in place for livestock protection to reduce predation opportunities. This included predator proof kraals, herding and kraaling.

A review of the trial is currently underway. This is important In informing the second trial. The second trial will be hosted in the same cattle post in June 2018

LEC X-mas party 2018

On December 8th 2017 in LEC, research camp in Khutse, the LEC team came together to celebrate enjoy common christmas festivities and the success of LEC projects.

Traditionally, the day started with food preparations and decorations in camp. This year, Monika, our Managing Director, had offered us a delicious traditionally beef stew cooked in a big pot. As a gesture of appreciation Monika has received a cow as a gift from one of her Botswana colleagues.

While the food was cooking, we started playing games. Most of the games were traditional games. The first game of the day was tug of war competition, in which two teams pulled a rope apart and the team that got pulled and crossed the barrier line would lose. LEC had invited the Kaudwane Chief Mr Tsholo Segwaba to come and enjoy the day with us. He also participated in the games and he seemed to enjoy it.

Monika gave us an uplifting speech. We all felt to be part of a strong and effective team member.

The day ended with awarding of prices and some gifts to members of staff who participated in the games. We are all proud to be a member of LEC and we are looking forward to the next year!


Horse Race 2017 in Kaudwane

The 23rd of September 2017 was no ordinary day. It was a day to go down in history as the day Kaudwane village hosted its first horse race. In the continued effort to sensitize the Kaudwane community and the surrounding areas that we work with, we held such an event to promote good animal husbandry practices as a way of minimizing the human predator conflict.

The inception of this event was birthed by Keolebetse Otukile one of our Education Programme officers who was compelled to initiate something to improve horse husbandry in the area. With such an event there was much deliberation and planning internally within Leopard Ecology & Conservation (LEC). We also held stakeholder meetings as a way of involving the community as well as to get their thoughts and suggestions towards the event. There was overwhelming support and enthusiasm towards the event.

Interested farmers with horses in the area registered with LEC and were then engaged with a Farrier, Mr. Siku, who assessed their horses. After assessments he gave them animal husbandry tips on how to improve the health of their horses. In the build up to the horse race event there were three assessments carried out by Mr. Siku who assessed the horses and continually shared his expertise with the horse owners and in the end chose the final horses to be entered into race.

Thirteen horses were selected, that raced on the 23rd of September, racing 400m’s, 600m’s, 800m’s and 1.4km’s during the course of the day.

Birdlife Botswana, Cheetah Conservation Botswana and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks from Molepolole were present at the race to educate the community about conservation related matters and how the community can learn to coexist with wildlife.

As a way of appreciating the efforts of all the riders, even those who did not win 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize there were given consolation money for their efforts. Mr. Obusitswe Pusoetsile, the best overall winner galloped home with a gold trophy that was sponsored by Mrs.Elicar Wagner. Three jockeys were recognized by the farrier in practicing good animal husbandry skills and were appreciated by certificates. Another special prize went to the most cooperative farmer, who was one of our greatest facilitators, he helped during farmer registration and encouraged farmers to support the horse race. We indeed had shining stars among us!

To all the supporters, stakeholders and sponsors the event could have not been possible without you. A round of applause is due to the support staff that worked tirelessly before and after the event to make it a success, with grateful hearts we say a BIG thank you. To all those unable to make it, we know you were with us in spirit!

Text: Kefilwe

Article in the local press (2017)

1. LEC Symposium – a great success

The first LEC Symposium took place on the 28th and 29th June 2017 in Zurich. It was a great success. We heard stimulating talks from LEC team members and well-known scientists all over the world who are working in fields relevant for LEC’s work. During the breaks and evenings there was room to exchange ideas and to discuss potential new projects.

One highlight of the event were surely the public talks of Prof. Dr David Macdonald and Prof. Dr Craig Packer on endangered hunters.

New website

We had to suffer several heavy attacks from the cyber space. Heavily wounded we had to abandon our site and work on a new one.

In a first step we will present the German version of the site and then the English. We are working step-by-step, so please come and visit regularly – there will be new interesting content!


… Were the trackers just playing at me, as the new researcher? Suddenly everyone climbed quickly back into the vehicle…

This and other stories as well as fantastic pictures are waiting for you in our calendar 2017.

price: 18 CHF plus postal charges

ordering adress: nicole.gusset@ieu.uzh.ch