Southern Africa’s Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area is located at the confluence of five southern African countries – Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – and covers an area of 520,000 km2, or roughly the size of France. The centerpiece of KAZA is its immensely valuable wildlife resource and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has identified this region as a priority area where eDNA technology could improve conservation outcomes by providing more reliable data for decision-makers and authorities monitoring the region’s biodiversity and seeking opportunities for adaptive management.
To effectively safeguard KAZA’s biodiversity, park managers require better data that can be collected more cost-efficiently than existing methods. eDNA technology is a powerful tool that can help address knowledge gaps and provide a sustained stream of real-time data to conservation area managers.
This project will include three phases; beginning with this Phase I feasibility study. WWF will meet with local partners in KAZA to understand their needs and assess how eDNA could deliver greater conservation impacts.
Phase I objectives include:
1. Evaluate the current capacity – including the current usage and knowledge of eDNA technology -of the primary potential scientific partners in Namibia and identify who will be responsible for carrying out the long term local eDNA project.
2. Identify at least two local conservation and natural resource management partners interested in testing the eDNA technology, with the goal of answering management or conservation questions in their regions of activity;
3. Identify biodiversity and conservation challenges in KAZA where the application of eDNA technology could improve conservation outcomes to meet the needs of local conservation decision-makers for better monitoring and data; and
4. Co-design pilot studies with the previously identified partners, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of eDNA technology in the KAZA region.
Project Director Biography
Arnaud Lyet is Lead Conservation Scientist at World Wildlife Fund, USA―Biostatistics, Technology and Decision Science for cost-efficient Biodiversity Conservation. He is responsible for building WWF Network’s capacity to implement robust and cost-efficient biodiversity monitoring and innovative, practical strategies for preserving key species in priority ecoregions. Lyet has contributed significantly or led several major research projects related to biodiversity assessments and modeling and has been intensively trained on eDNA sampling techniques and data analysis and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Montpellier, France.