Research In A Thirstland WildernessDonate Now


Hi, my name is Kevin MacFarlane, and I’m a PhD scholar at the Australian National University. The official title of my research project is:

“Spatial and resource requirements of the lions in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve: Managing conflicts with neighbouring pastoralists.”

This website is where you can find out more about what the project entails, what I’m doing on a daily basis over the next few years, see a few photos, and one day soon track the lions via satellite imagery. Thanks for showing interest in our research project.

Mission Statement

The main aim of the project is to resolve the conflict between local African cattle farmers and the lions from the game reserve. Many people think of it as shocking that farmers can still shoot a lion to save his cows, yet the same thing goes on with wolves and bears in North America and Europe, dingoes in Australia, and crocodiles and leopards in Asia. Native animals and humans are in conflict around the world, and the animals are slowly losing ground.

As many as 30-50 lions may be shot around the the Central Kalahari Game Reserve every year. The government wants to take control of the situation, finding a compromise where lions are no longer in conflict with people, and we aim to find out how they can do that. You may ask, surely there has been a lot of research in to lions and their biology.

There has been, starting with George Schallers seminal work on the lions of the Serengeti, continued by Craig Packer to this day, and many others across Africa. Actually what they all agree on, is that lions are so varied in their response to different habitats, (they are able to survive in deep jungle of the Congo, dry forests of South Africa, and the deserts of Namibia,) that we need to study them again in each new environment. Added to that, our primary goal with lion conservation today is the conflict with people and they are all different. Some revere the lion, and can withstand small losses without retaliation.

Most fear the lion, but they all differ in the way the live, the way they raise and protect their livestock, and the habitat around them are very different. Before we can advise the people living around the CKGR, we need to know how the lions are using the space in and outside the reserve, what are their main prey items in the dry and then in the wet season, and how this change in prey base may effect movements of lions into the cattle areas.

Of course there may be other factors that influence lions use of their environment, the most common is the landscape itself, and lion social factors such as the tendency to nomadism in non-dominant males, and the exclusion of some lions by more dominant individuals and prides. We hope to understand the full picture through the research herein. Follow the links to find out more.

We apologise while we re-instate the website to full capacity.

Your patience is appreciated.