Although puku populations are scattered into small pockets in various countries, it has been estimated that about one-third of the population occurs in protected areas, the most important of which is the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania. Other areas important to the survival of the puku include Katavi-Rukwa in Tanzania, Kafue, the Luangwa Valley and Nsumbu-Tondwa-Mweru Wantipa in Zambia, and the smaller populations in Kasungu National Park in Malawi and Chobe National Park in Botswana (1) (8).
The puku is considered a ‘flagship’ species for conservation in the Kasanka National Park in Zambia, where its population has increased after improved anti-poaching efforts (13). In Rukwa Game Reserve in Tanzania, the puku population has declined, and regular monitoring and law enforcement have been recommended (12).
As the Kilombero Valley holds most of the global population of the puku, any future changes to this species’ status there would have a significant impact on its overall conservation status (1) (8). Within this area, the puku occurs in the Kilombero Game Controlled Area, where trophy hunting is controlled but other human impacts are not regulated (9) (10). In addition to protecting key habitats in the centre of the valley, surrounding habitat on the edges of the floodplain also needs to be conserved (9).
The Kilombero Valley is now designated as a Ramsar site, or a Wetland of International Importance (14). However, more information is still needed on the biology and behaviour of the puku in this area, and the conservation status of puku populations in other locations also needs to be further assessed (9).