The reduction in lion (Panthera leo) numbers in Africa is largely due to habitat loss and conflict with humans, and lions are a species whose distribution and conservation status is affected by such conflict. Lion conservation recently became a global issue when statistics revealed that lion numbers have suffered a loss of almost 90% over the past two decades. This reduction is largely due to habitat loss and conflict with humans. East Africa is home to the majority of the continent’s lions and as these predators become more scarce, it is vital to ascertain the status of the remaining populations and to mitigate the threats contributing to their decline. The Ewaso Lions project join The WILD Foundation in August 2010.
Ewaso Lions was formed in 2007 by Oxford PhD candidate Shivani Bhalla, a Kenyan national, to investigate the factors affecting the population dynamics of lions in and around the Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem in northern Kenya. Lions in this region are in an extremely vulnerable situation as they live in or adjacent to areas inhabited by nomadic, pastoral people. Lion predation of livestock has caused great resentment amongst the growing pastoralist population, which has led to increased retaliatory killing of lions.
Ewaso Lions is a grassroots project whose mission is to promote the conservation of lions through research and community-based outreach programmes. The research will enable the formulation of strategies for long-term lion conservation by achieving an understanding of the factors driving pride establishments, their associations and movements in the wild, the extent of human-lion conflict, and the impact of habitat loss.
Where We Work
Ewaso Lions is the only project in northern Kenya to focus on lions both in and out of protected areas. Our study area, located in northern Kenya, covers over 900 km2 and comprises Samburu National Reserve, covering an area of 165 km2. It is adjacent to Buffalo Springs National Reserve, covering an area of 131 km2, and the 239 square kilometre Shaba National Reserve. Westgate Community Conservancy, an area covering 406 km2, is adjacent to the western boundary of Samburu.
Working with Local People
Ewaso Lions firmly believes that the success of predator conservation hinges on the involvement of local people who live among these predators. We believe the survival of predators depends on finding ways for people to benefit from their presence. Ewaso Lions has established several community outreach and education programmes to engage local people in conservation, provide training, find creative solutions to human-wildlife conflict, and give back to the community. More detailed information is provided on our website (www.ewasolions.org).
Progress in 2011
In 2011, Ewaso Lions embarked on a number of project activities. We have and continue to monitor 40 lions within the Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem. Our camera traps in Westgate Conservancy have captured numerous images of rarely seen and elusive animals like aardvarks, wild dogs, and much more. We have continued to conduct wildlife counts within the Conservation Area of Westgate Conservancy to identify periodic changes within this key wildlife area. The Ewaso Lions scouts have regularly patrolled their locations within Westgate and recorded all prey and predator they encountered. Our Community Officer has recorded all conflict depredation incidences and has mapped all settlements within our study area.
We recently expanded our Warrior Watch programme, and now have 15 warriors actively engaged in conservation in 2 community conservancies. We recently completed a wildlife training course with all conservancy scouts and warriors, equipping them with information and skills they need for their wildlife monitoring routines. We have continued to take children into the reserves as part of our Kenyan Kids on Safari programme and now have a well established Wildlife Club and library at the local school.