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.