Our lion projects in East Africa concern Amboseli National Park (NP) and Nairobi NP, both in Kenya. Since 2000, lion populations in Kenya have decreased from 2,700 to less than 2,000 lions now. Mainly due to habitat loss and conflict with people and their livestock. There are indications that this decline has been halted, especially in Amboseli and Nairobi NP, partly due to our contribution.
Project in Amboseli
Amboseli NP covers 392 km2 and forms part of the Amboseli ecosysteem (3,000 km2). The park is surrounded by group ranches owned by local Maasai communities. During the wet season, wild herbivores disperse throughout much of the Amboseli ecosystem, while in the dry season animals concentrate in the park as it has permanent springs originating from melt water from nearby Mt. Kilimanjaro.
In the dry season Maasai are allowed to enter the park with their livestock for access to water. Consequently, lions are confronted with livestock both inside and outside the park, in addition to their natural prey species. Between 2001 and 2006 retaliatory killing of lions increased from 21 to 44 lions in the Amboseli area. Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) initiated the ‘Amboseli Lion Project’ to gain insight if livestock was habitually killed by the same lions, or occassionally killed by several lions.
Project in Nairobi
Nairobi NP (117 km2) is south of the Athi-Kaputiei plains and is situated in the urban area of Nairobi. The park protects just about 5% of the Athi-Kaputiei ecoysteem, but is fundamental for herbivores during the dry season owing to the abundant richness of water. The grassland is enriched by soil containing ‘phonolithic’ lava, which provides high quality forage. This excellent grazing territory explains the large occurrence of large mammals, but attracts also pastoralists.
Human-lion conflicts occur increasingly with the urban community. KWS has reports on lions attacking giraffes in a captive-breeding facility, lions crossing through the protective fences and lions threatening domestic dogs in urban environments. The latest estimates show that around 35 lions remain in Nairobi NP. Since the beginning of the ‘Nairobi Lion Project’ (in 2012) no lions have been killed by pastoralists in the surroundings of the park.
Our main activities for these projects are the monitoring of GPS collared lions, facilitating research on human-lion conflicts, training of KWS staff and an awareness campaign for local communities.