Wild DogThe history of the Zambian Carnivore Programme stems from work initiated by Dr. Kellie Leigh (see below), who conducted intensive studies of African wild dogs in Lower Zambezi National Park beginning in 1999 as part of her PhD research at the University of Sydney, Australia.  Kellie broadened her work into the non-profit organization African Wild Dog Conservation (AWDC), expanding its activities into the Luangwa valley in 2005 with funding from WWF-Netherlands.  In 2007 AWDC was registered as a non-profit trust in Zambia and in mid-2009 was granted permission from the Zambia Wildlife Authority to expand into intensive studies on multiple large carnivore species and their prey.  In 2010 we officially became the Zambian Carnivore Programme, implementing multi-species projects in Liuwa and Greater Kafue in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and we now work across Zambia in most of the country’s key ecosystems for large carnivores and their prey.

Dr. Kellie Leigh
Founder and former board member (1999-2009)

Kellie founded the programme’s activities in 1998 and over ten years expanded the organization from “one researcher and a Toyota Hilux” into a highly successful and internationally collaborative conservation programme. The endangered African wild dog was ZCP’s first flagship species and the programme aimed to conserve it and other highly mobile mammal species across the landscape in the beautiful Lower Zambezi National Park. Dr. Kellie LeighOver the following years Kellie successfully developed the organization’s multifaceted approach to conservation of combining research, community education and on-ground conservation activities. She also secured the organization’s sustainability and its capacity to deliver a diverse range of conservation outcomes by establishing partnerships with organizations such as the Zambia Wildlife Authority, local NGO’s including anti-poaching and community education organizations, University research partners, ecotourism operators and international donors. During her time in Zambia, Kellie completed her PhD through the University of Sydney; her key fields of research expertise include conservation biology, population genetics, and behavioral ecology. Integrated into management and policy documents, her research findings and recommendations attracted funding and support from WWF-Netherlands from 2005 onwards, enabling rapid expansion into South Luangwa and beyond. Kellie has been awarded numerous research grants, awards and scholarships which provided additional core funding for the work. She resigned from the Board of Trustees in 2009, now applying her expertise and experience back home in Australia, Kellie hopes to help change Australia’s record for having the worst mammal extinction rate in the world. 

Zambian Carnivore Programme