According to the African Wildlife Foundation, more than 75 percent of the under-developed nation’s residents are small-scale farmers. This economic reliance on agriculture, as well as aluminum and petroleum production, has led to a destruction of habitats and depletion of trees for timber. An estimated 70 percent of wildlife has been lost since 1975. To help protect the animals that remain, the government has created several national parks and marine reserves over the past several decades and appears to be stepping up its anti-poaching efforts. (Due to widespread poverty and a history of corruption among officials, illegal wildlife trading and poaching have been huge issues in Mozambique.)
Although none of the Mozambican areas of the Zambezi Delta are formally protected, the Twenty Four Lions team explains that the delta has been flourishing in recent years thanks to management by safari operators. They claim that recovering populations of hooved animals have provided enough meat that locals have not been forced to turn to subsistence poaching. Moreover, there is enough to go around for the lions.
To be sure that the cats have the best possible chance of survival and success, 15 have been fitted with tracking collars and will be closely monitored for at least six years.
One member of the scientific team, zoologist Byron du Preez, stated that this project could increase the number of lions in the Zambezi to 500 within 15 years.