Read more about our bio-social study to tigers in India. In this study we answer questions in how tigers survive in urban environments and how local people are coping with the presence of these large cats.
Chair of Leo Foundation, Hans de Iongh was in Kenya between 15 to 24 february 2020 for a mission to collar three lions. One male (Loek Lotir) and one female (Seffie) were collared in lake Nakuru NP and one female (Betty) was collared in Soysambu Conservancy.
This mission was a collaboration between Leo foundation, Monica Chege of KWS, the KWS veterinary service and Soysambu Conservancy. The collaring was done as part of an ongoing research programme coordinated by Monica Chege and the satellite collars will be used by the Management of Lake Nakuru NP and Soysambu Conservancy with the aim to reduce and mitigate lion-livestock conflicts. In the past lions escaped from lake Nakuru NP into adjacent Soysambu Conservancy. We used three Africa Willdife Tracking (AWT) Irridium satellite collars, with VHF transmitters. Because of this type of collars, the movements of the lions can be tracked on the AWT website, and if needed, direct action can be taken.
The collaring of the adult female Betty in the Soysambu Conservancy was particularly important, since she is part of a group of the last 4 lions this place. A year ago, there were still 16 lions in the Soysambu Conservancy, but due to retaliatory killings by livestock owners and the dispersal of some lions to other areas (to Hells Gate), only these 4 lions are left. (Betty, two subadult cubs and a smaller cub). The satellite collar on Betty is considered a life line for these lions and hopefully will prevent conflict situations with livestock owners. We are currently applying this way of ‘geofencing’ as an early warning system when the lions approach livestock boma’s.
In Lake Nakuru NP some 12 lions are left. In the past lions from Nakuru NP moved to Soysambu Conservancy through holes in the chainlink fence, but due to improvements in the fence this has become more difficult. KWS, Soysambu conservancy and Leo foundation intend to monitor the movements of these lions in the coming month and initiate the early warning system with ‘geofencing’ when lions enter livestock areas or escape from lake Nakuru NP as well.
Chair of the Leo foundation Hans de Iongh met on the 23th of Februari with dr Tuqa Jirmo (the assistant CEO of Lewa Borena conservancy). Dr. Tuqa Jirmo received support during 2007-2012 from the Leo foundation for a monitoring and conflict prevention program for lion populations in Amboseli under a PhD research program at Leiden university.
Now they discussed the possibilities for monitoring lion and spotted hyena populations in Lewa Borena. These data can be directly used for conflict prevention/ mitigation with local communities.
We are happy to share that it was agreed to initiate a new collaboration between the Lewa Borena conservancy and Leo foundation.
Last year, several students of Leiden University traveled to different National Parks in Kenya to do their internships for their Master degree. Here, they studied different aspects of lion ecology. All those studies have been supported through Leo Foundation. Now, since everybody is back and all reports are written we could like to share you some of the results though the abstracts below.
Josine Meijer – The effect of human disturbance on lion movement patterns and home ranges in and around Nairobi National Park, Kenya
The lion (Panthera leo, L. 1785) population worldwide has been on the decline for decades, with the leading causes being habitat destruction, prey depletion and human-lion conflicts. Contrastingly, research that studied the effect of habitat destruction on lion movement are scarce. In this study I investigated the effect of habitat destruction on lion movement patterns, to gain a better understanding of human disturbance on lions. In 2017 and 2018, the Kenyan government built a railway bridge that cut straight through Nairobi National Park. Using GPS data from collared lions and using geospatial analysis, I investigated if the railway bridge or construction thereof has had an effect on the lions’ movements and home range. Construction works had a significant effect on the lions movement. The lions tend to keep a further distance from the bridge during constructions and were found outside of the park more often. Furthermore, potential minimum distance moved per 24 hours and home range sizes decreased substantially during and after construction of the bridge. No restoration of the movement patterns was found. The railway is expected to be in full operation in 2019. This study concludes that the construction of the bridge seems to have had an impact on the lion population in Nairobi NP. However no conclusions can be drawn for long term impacts of the presence of the bridge. Further research is needed to determine if lions are also impacted by the presence of the bridge when it is in use.
Megan Verhagen – The influence of prey species abundance on prey selection and diet composition of Panthera leo in Kenya: a DNA-analysis.
The African lion is under increasing pressure and has faced dramatic population declines in the past 21 years which are expected to continue. To preserve the African lion it is suggested that in the near future only fenced protected intensively managed areas may save lion populations. However,
conservation success of management practices is dependent upon many different factors which all may contribute to or counteract the success of conservation efforts. One of these factors is diet composition. The diet composition of lions provides insights in predator-prey dynamics and lion
population demographics. The optimal foraging theory predicts that predator diet composition will vary along with the abundance variations of the prey species. Since lions are opportunistic predators, it is expected that prey species abundance influences their diet composition. However, in small reserves with unnatural ungulate assemblages, the connection between prey species abundance and diet composition are not as distinct. Consequently, for the purpose of conservation management, especially in in enclosed protected areas, it is essential to gain a better understanding of the influence of prey species abundance on prey selection by lions. A diet analysis is proposed for which the traditional methods of hair analysis and opportunistic observations are used in combination with a DNA-analysis through NGS. This study will be carried out in 4 different national parks in Kenya which were selected for their differing management strategies.
Sam Boerlijst – Genotyping the lion, The usability of microsatellite genotyping of faecal samples
- Biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate. Adequate conservation is needed in order to mitigate damage to ecosystem stability and functioning. Even more so due to the increasing pressure of climate change, habitat fragmentation and overexploitation.
- Protected areas have been established worldwide as a tool for conservation of biodiversity. However, conservation of wide-ranging carnivores in particular remains a challenge. Due to the pressure of habitat loss, prey base depletion and increasingly dense inhabited buffer zones of national parks, human-wildlife conflicts have dramatically increased. This has led to a severe decrease of the African lion (Panthera leo, see Kitchener et al L. 1758) populations.
- Recent research has demonstrated that in fenced parks lion populations may have a higher chance to survive by limiting prey dispersal and human-wildlife conflicts.
- The effectiveness of enclosing reserves can be studied via dietary analysis. However, traditional methods are prone to oversampling of a few individuals, which may lead to biased results, thereby revealing individual dietary changes instead of those of the species.
- This study aims to provide a method to assess individual diet via molecular identification of scat samples in Nakuru National Park and Soysambu Conservancy using microsatellite variant calling from capillary electrophoresis or next generation sequencing data.
- Insight in the usability of microsatellite analysis for faecal samples can be used to more accurately determine population size and individual diet, which may help to determine the effectiveness of fenced reserves in regards to livestock predation.
In december, Francis Lesilau defendid his PhD thesis on the coexistence between Lions can local communities in Kenya. leo foundation has been closely involved in this study. Are you interested in how lions became the passion of Francis? Read his story on the website of Leiden University!
On 4 December 2020 Francis Lesilau successfully defended his PhD thesis in Leiden University with the title; Human Lion conflicts around Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Francis Lesilau is a senior staffmember of Kenya Wildlife Service and his project was supported by the Leo foundation. Besides his PhD research Francis was actively involved in lion conservation.With support of the Leo foundation he developed an ‘early warning system’ based on satellite collated lions in order to warn local livestock owners on the presence of lions and this way to prevent conflicts.This ‘early warning system’ is currently being applied in various national parks in Kenya.
The Leo foundation will continue its support to the implementation of the ‘early warning system ‘ in Kenya during 2020-2022
In 2019, a team from Leo Foundation did organise the periodical meeting of the African Lion Working Group (ALWG). The ALWG is the platform for scientists, conservationists and other people who are involved in lion conservation, and is linked to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The group has over 120 members, of which 64 were present during the meeting. Regular meetings are thé opportunity where members can share experience and knowledge with each other. As a result, lion conservation and research can be improved.
At the start of November, 64 lion protectors from 4 continents met each other at the Mpala research center in Kenya. Leo Foundation has receives additional funding from the Lion Recovery Fund and Houston Zoo (USA). This supported the participation of lion conservationists from West/Central Africa and India to the meeting. This is very important because this region represents the northern subspecies of the lion, and many populations in this region are on the brink of extinction. Unfortunately, local researchers in these regions often have few resources to attend international meetings. We are therefore grateful that with this support 7 leading lion conservationists from Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Sudan and India were able to participate in this important meeting.
It was a successfull meeting, held on a beautiful location. The first two days, a wide selection of presentations were given. Presented topics were; the current status of the lion per region, challenges in lion conservation, the role of genetic research, coexistence with local communities, and the trade in lion bones and body parts. After each session, presented topics were discussed and interesting point of view were raised. The last two days, we visited various projects in the Laikipia area. In these excursions it became clear how in a commercial way of cattle herding and a thriving population of large carnivores can go hand in hand. We have visited different types of bombs, learned about the use of GPS collars with lions. Lastly, we were introduced to the Lion Rangers Program that runs in the area.
After a year of work, our new Masterplan is finished. In here, we present our new visions and objectives for the next five years.
Sign the petition aganst medicins made of parts of threatened plant and animal species
During the coming World Health (WHO) Assembly on May 20 – 28 2019, the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will be accepted. In ICD-11, Traditional Medicine (TM) is proposed to be incorporated for the first time, referring to a union set of harmonized traditional medicine conditions of, for example, the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean classifications. Many organisations anticipate that the inclusion of TM in ICD-11 will speed up the already accelerating rise of TM  and that it will influence medicine use around the world.
In some cases products from wild plants and animals are incorporated in traditional medicines, even when they are listed on the global IUCN Red List of threatened species . This already had a significant impact on several Red Listed species . Many nature-, conservation- and animal welfare organisations, as well as world citizens, are worried that the integration of TM in ICD will further threaten the existence of rare plant and animal species . Even if inclusion of TM in the ICD means that it is not recognized as medicine as such, we anticipate that TM will receive more credibility in the public opinion and this will only further stimulate the use of TM and might put both endangered animal and plant species at risk.
Therefore several organisations wish to express their concern and co-authored this letter, which can be signed by everybody; NGO’s as well as world citizens. We will make sure this petition will be delivered by the member states of WHO during the coming World Health Assembly.
Help us: We can only give a strong signal if many individual people and organisations sign this letter. Please sign the petition and share it on your social media channels after signing.
Thank you very much!