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.