Steve Pope Safaris

Semi-participatory Camping, Bushwalking, & Canoe Safaris

Background History by Steve Pope

1)    I first became aware of the possible impact of unusually large numbers of hyaena on a predator population when I observed the fact that in 1987 only one of the 3 prides of lion on the Mana Pools river terraces had 2 cubs. 

2)    In 1988 there were no new cubs anywhere and these two, 1987 cubs, were the only ones on the Flood Plain. 

3)    In 1989 the now sub - adult cubs from 1987 were the only young lion on the Flood Plain – no other cubs had survived. I had by now become aware of larger numbers and more common sightings of hyaena, (hyaena were captured and sold to a foreign country), and wrote a letter noting my concerns to Dr. Rowan Martin in National Parks research department. 

4)    In 1992 the culling of 5000 Impala commenced. I felt strongly that the sudden increase in impala was due to the hyaena impact on the predator populations, and that the hyaena numbers should have been reduced and the abundant impala population left as an easy food source for predator populations to recover on.  

5)    I drafted a well - supported petition in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the impala cull. A copy of this was left in my file in the Mana office. Mr. Monks later became aware of it and thereby my ideas about the impact of hyaena on lion. 

6)    Also in 1992 Chitake Spring was opened for use. The large pride of lion there and very low numbers of hyaena confirmed my fear that abnormally high numbers hyaena were impacting on the predator populations on the Mana Pools River Terraces. The influencing difference between the Flood plain and Chitake Spring is the numerous camps and lodges on the floodplain where hyaena have been able to feed from rubbish bins and an open rubbish pit and even stolen cooler boxes since 1980. Chitake has only 3 campsites since 1992. 

7)    I continued updating the 1992 document as I learnt more about both species which has resulted in the Hyaena document.