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Closer look: Fauna & Flora International working to conserve carnivores in Georgia

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Written by: Gareth Goldthorpe
Other posts by Gareth Goldthorpe

The Georgian Carnivore Conservation Project is primarily funded by the EU and is implemented by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in partnership with a national NGO, NACRES.

The main focus of the project is the conservation of the unique and globally important biodiversity of the semi-arid landscape in the south-east of the country.

The Vashlovani Protected Area complex

Located in the south-eastern part of Georgia, this is the project’s key site and covers a total of 35,054 hectares, the bulk of which is made up of a Nature Reserve and a National Park.

This semi-arid area is home to a stunning array of carnivores, including grey wolf, jackal, fox, lynx, jungle cat and bear as well as sporadic sightings of leopard and striped hyena. Vashlovani also provides a home for all four of Georgia’s vultures (griffon, black, Egyptian and bearded) as well as many other birds of prey including four species of eagle, two buzzards and three harriers.

Sheep farming is the key local livelihood here and traditional pastoral activities have shaped the landscape. Unfortunately, the recent concentration of livestock over-wintering in the area is now putting the entire system at risk through overgrazing, habitat degradation and wildlife persecution fuelled by human-wildlife conflict.

The Tusheti Protected Area complex

This area is the project’s second site, and the mountain home of many of the livestock owners and shepherds that spend the winter months in Vashlovani.

This 118,319 hectare alpine area is located in the north east of the country. The majority of the sub-alpine and alpine meadows of the Tusheti Nature Reserve and National Park are used for grazing during the summer months, with evidence of heavy degradation and erosion from livestock.

Tushetian shepherds

The Tush community has a unique culture with prevailing traditional attitudes and customs closely linked to sheep farming.

Since settling in the region in the 17th century, these communities have been migrating annually with their flocks between the alpine summer pastures in Tusheti and their winter pastures throughout the region, including Vashlovani.

By working closely with local stakeholders and beneficiaries, combining their expertise with that of international specialists, the Georgian Carnivore Conservation Project is committed to:

  • Increasing and improving the conservation of important ecosystems and species through supporting selected protected areas
  • Reducing human-wildlife conflict through partnership with the farmers and livestock owners most affected
  • Enhancing sustainable rural livelihoods to support and enhance conservation
  • Improving attitudes and perceptions of regional and national target groups towards biodiversity, carnivores and conservation
  • Positively influencing national policy and local practices through lessons learned from the project
Written by
Gareth Goldthorpe

Other posts by Gareth Goldthorpe

The main focus of the project is the conservation of the unique and globally important biodiversity of the semi-arid landscape in the south-east of Georgia.

Gareth Goldthorpe

Project Field Coordinator, Georgia, Fauna & Flora International

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