SCGIS 2017 Scholarship Program
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Jassiel L. Msoka, Zambia Department of National Parks and Wildlife loading....

*-Organization name: Department of National Parks and Wildlife
*-Organizationstreet address Private Bag 1, Kafue Road, Chilanga, Zambia
: *-Country: Zambia
*-Work phone with country and area code: +260 21 1278 513
*-Work fax with country and area code: +260 21 1278 244
*-Main email:
*-Scholar Email:;

*-ORGANIZATION’S WORK: The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (formerly Zambia Wildlife Authority) under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts is responsible for the management, conservation, protection and administration of National Parks and Game Management Areas in Zambia. Zambia’s Wildlife Estates comprising National Parks and their buffer zones (Game Management Areas) covers approximately 35 per cent of the country’s surface area. The Department is also responsible for spearheading Community participation in Wildlife Management to enhance the economic and social well-being of local communities in or around Community Partnership Parks and Game Management Areas through Community Resource Boards which are local community organizations through which the responsibilities of Management of wildlife is shared with communities. It also spearheads sensitization and education programs to the general public on the necessity of wildlife conservation.
The Department is responsible for conducting research on biodiversity, and providing scientific information and technical advice on biodiversity status, trends and threats to support management programs. It also collaborates with local and international research institutions and other scientific networks regarding wildlife management and maintains databases on species and the status of protected areas. It ensures that measures are undertaken that promote the balance between the sustainable use of wildlife and the management and maintenance of ecosystem processes in the country’s protected area network. The Department promotes regional and international cooperation in the area of wildlife management, conservation and law enforcement; in this regard Zambia is part of the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area, which is the largest Conservation Area in the World spanning five southern African Countries. The Department is therefore involved in conservation and management of protected areas and carries out activities such as Law Enforcement, loading....Prosecution of Offenders, Scientific Research, Protected Area and Planning to name just a few of the activities involved in managing protected areas. Most of the country’s protected areas are managed by the Department, but in a few cases it co-manages areas with partners.

*-ROLE IN THE ORGANIZATION: I have worked in the Wildlife Sector in Zambia since January 2004 when I started out as a Management Trainee of the then Zambia Wildlife Authority (The precursor organization to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife), in various roles and responsibilities ranging from Park Ranger to Wildlife Ecologist. I am currently employed as a Senior Ecologist at the Department Headquarters where I supervise ecologists in conducting aerial and ground level surveys on terrestrial large mammals in order to provide scientific information for science based management of wildlife. I am specifically responsible for large mammal population monitoring with a focus on large carnivores. My responsibilities include;
---Undertaking national level surveys on terrestrial large mammals in order to establish their status;
----Supervising the collection and maintenance of population data from Public Wildlife Estates;
---Compiling the National Wildlife Population Report.
---Compiling National Off-take Quota for all species
---Supervising collection and analysis of trophy hunting data.
---I also acts as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Scientific Authority Desk Officer
This information is used as input in the development of Species Specific Conservation and Management plans in order to enhance the management of Wildlife. I initiated and managed the Liuwa Carnivore Research Project under the Zambian Carnivore Programme in Liuwa Plain National Park in Western Zambia focused on large carnivore research and monitoring of Hyena, Wild dog, lion and Cheetah In 2010. My previous experience include being a Research Assistant on the Elephant Research and Conservation Project in the Zambezi Heartlands Project under the African Wildlife Foundation. My current research interests focus on source sink dynamics of lion populations resulting from trophy hunting. This is in relation to the effects on lions in National Parks by processes in adjacent areas including trophy hunting, prey depletion, human wildlife conflict and disease. The impact of lion trophy hunting cannot be evaluated in isolation from these because they all affect lion populations both inside and outside protected areas.


history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: I got involved in conservation and GIS when I joined the Zambia Wildlife Authority (Now Department of National Parks and Wildlife) in 2004 as an Operations Ranger in Lower Zambezi National Park in South Central Zambia. I supervised Wildlife Police Officers and planned for their operations. From waypoints collected using hand held GPS sets that officers carried during patrols I was able to map hotspots of illegal activities, patrol coverage and distribution of animals in the park and planned for further operations. In 2006 I transferred from Operations to Research as an ecologist where I worked with the Elephant Research and Conservation in the Lower Zambezi Landscape project under the African Wildlife Foundation as a Research Technician. The project was concerned with mapping elephant movements, corridors and human elephant conflict hotspots in the Lower Zambezi landscape. In 2010, I was seconded to the Zambian Carnivore Programme in Liuwa Plain National Park where I initiated and run the Liuwa Carnivore Research Project. The Liuwa Plain National Park is unique in that it is a landscape dominated by hyenas and very few lions, almost becoming extinct at one time. It is in this landscape that I horned my skills in large carnivore ecology and research methods. Through collaring (tagging) different animal species we studied interactions between the small lion pride, the hyenas and the wild dogs. We installed on them GPS collars that recorded a location every 6 hours and that information was used to map interactions amongst lions, hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs. It is on the research carried out in Liuwa Plain National Park that I did my Masters research and also the subject of my proposed presentation at the training and conference. I trained a number of research technicians and researchers on large carnivore research techniques who helped in the research. Seven years from the time the project was established the project is still running and the plan is for it to continue to be a long term study tracking the effect of lion population recovery on the hyena population in Liuwa Plain National Park. Upon completion of my studies I rejoined the Department of National Park as a Senior Ecologist responsible for large mammal population monitoring. My publications include Spotted hyena survival and density in a lion depleted ecosystem: the effects of prey availability, humans and competition between large carnivores in African savannahs published in the journal Biological Conservation; Assessing the sustainability of African lion trophy hunting, with recommendations for policy in Ecological Applications; Questionable policy for large carnivore hunting published in Science; and Developing fencing policies for dryland ecosystems published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

*-ROLE IN THE LOCAL SCGIS CHAPTER: I am a paid up ordinary member of the Zambian Chapter of the Society for Conservation GIS and participate in meetings of the chapter. I am one of the members key to the registration of the Zambian Chapter with the Registrar of Societies.


what is most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: Large carnivores are typically low-density, wide-ranging, and elusive, with a propensity to conflict with humans; consequently, these species are very sensitive to human impacts even in protected areas, and often require large areas of relatively intact, contiguous tracts of habitat. Therefore use of GIS is important in making visual representations of the range, movement and habitat requirements of these species. Representing the spatial scale of use and interactions among the different carnivores is a major challenge because of their nature. Within the diverse large carnivore guilds that typify savannah ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa, the dominant carnivore species, primarily the hyena and African lion, compete with each other and can have strong limiting effects on the populations of threatened subordinate competitors. Due to depletion by poaching and conflict, the Liuwa carnivore guild is unusual because of its relative lack of lions and dominance of spotted hyena. By 2003 the lion population was reduced to a single lioness, with subsequent reintroductions of two males and two females in 2009 and 2011, respectively. My work has involved studying the effect on hyenas of the reduction in lion numbers - their main competitor. The results of this study is the subject of my proposed presentation at the SCGIS conference. My work has now evolved to focus on the impacts of human activities particularly trophy hunting on populations of the large carnivores. Given their ecological and economic importance and widespread declines, we need to use all available data and methods to carefully re-evaluate how we’re managing large carnivore populations that are hunted. Our understanding of these interactions has not been adequate to develop policies that both conserve lion populations and support local human populations in a sustainable manner.

*-Title of the paper you will present: Spotted hyena survival and density in a lion depleted ecosystem: The effects of prey availability, humans and competition between large carnivores in African savannahs

*-Abstract/summary of the paper you will present: Interspecific competition between large carnivores is not well understood due to the complexity of carnivore guild dynamics and the array of ecological and human factors affecting them. The loss of a carnivore guild's dominant species can therefore provide considerable insights. We evaluated spotted hyena density and demography from Zambia's Liuwa Plain National Park, a recovering ecosystem where the hyena’s main competitor, the African lion, was severely reduced to 3–5 animals. Using data from 233 individuals in five clans and mark-resight robust design models we estimated population size, density, age and sex-specific annual survival rates for the hyena population from 2010 to 2013 and tested for the effect of human settlements, prey density, competition with lions and hyena clan size on mean hyena survival. We estimated a minimum density of 0.13 hyenas/km2 and maximum density of 0.52 hyenas/km2. Density fluctuated with seasonal migrations of the main prey species, the blue wildebeest. Mean annual survival across all age classes was 0.93 (95%CI: 0.79–0.99).With high survival rates across all sex and age classes, we found no detectable effects of ecological or anthropogenic factors on survival. These results suggest that the combination of abundant prey, weak human-carnivore conflict, and weak competition from lions provide very favorable conditions for hyena survival. Additional investigations of hyena demography concurrent with lion population recovery efforts can provide considerable insights into the dynamics of carnivore competition and predation in African savannahs and the human and ecological factors affecting them.




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compilation : Charles Convis, ESRI Conservation Program, May 2007 & 2017
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