Date Published: 21 Aug, 2009
Kenya Wildlife Service scientists will from August 16-23, 2009 replace two movement tracking devices on two lions in the Amboseli National Park.
The two collars were among five GSM devices fitted on lions in 2007 for purposes of monitoring their movements and understanding human-lion conflict in the Amboseli ecosystem.
For the last two-and-half years, scientists have collected data on the lions’ movement patterns. However, two of the collars have since stopped transmitting data after they expired and require replacement. A 12-member team will fit the two collars during the one-week exercise.
The Amboseli Lion Project is a joint effort between KWS and the Leiden University, Netherlands under a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions.
The five collared lions in the project include three females and two males: Tato, Amyjane, Shangiki, Amboga and Kip. Tato and Shangiki lost their GSM transmission but the VHF is still working.
Lions have a special place in Kenyans’ livelihood and conservation efforts. Other than being the symbol for national strength, they are among the Big Five, a major attraction for visitors to Kenya. Many organisations also use it on their logos.
Ironically, the national population of lions has been declining in the last seven years at the rate of 100 per year. Their population has dropped from an estimated 2700 in the year 2002 to the current 2000 individuals. If the current decline rate continues, there won’t be a single lion surviving in Kenya in the next 20 years.
This trend is disturbing and every effort needs to be made to ensure that Kenya either stabilises its population at the current population of 2000 lions or increases the numbers to an ecologically acceptable level. Quick and decisive actions need to be taken to create public awareness on the lion conservation strategy, which was recently formulated to guide national lion conservation and management in the long-term. The new strategy, which will be launched soon, prescribes actions that need to be taken by various stakeholders coordinated by KWS to reverse the declining national population.
The Amboseli Lion Project offers a good opportunity for Kenya to understand how part of its lion population is behaving to enable the formulation of appropriate ecosystem level conservation approaches. Below is an indication of the distribution of the lions countrywide.
|Name of National Park/Reserve||Number of Lions|
|Aberdare||A few individuals|