Living with Lions

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The Living with Lions mission is to restore and conserve viable populations of lions and other large carnivores outside protected areas by promoting traditional African practices that foster coexistence of people and predators.

There are only six protected or managed areas in Africa where lion populations may be large and safe enough to be considered viable in the long term; retaliatory killing following depredation on livestock is the primary threat to lions everywhere else. Living with Lions (LWL) focuses on developing and promoting practical, realistic, and effective measures, rooted in traditional pastoralist culture, to restore and conserve viable lion populations outside formal protected areas, in order to maintain ecological functionality and genetic connectivity between the few large parks and management areas.

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Mara Predator Project: The Masai Mara ecosystem supports Kenya’s largest lion population and is East Africa’s most important tourist destination. Despite its ecological and economic importance, this population has never been studied in detail, although there are fears that it may be in decline. Living With Lions initiated the Mara Predator Project in 2008 to develop a sustainable long term monitoring program, documenting current population size and future trends, as well as addressing the conservation issues faced by lions in this region. The program is expanding rapidly to cover the entire Mara ecosystem, including predator conservation and livestock protection programs with the local Masai communities, and studies of the ecological and behavioral responses of lions to livestock movements and tourism activity.

Laikipia Predator Project: Started in 1997, our work on livestock protection and lion management has brought about a 90% decline in number of lions shot on Laikipia’s commercial cattle ranches, the most successful conservation area in Kenya. In the past, monitoring depended entirely on radio collars because persecuted lions are nocturnal and hard to see in this rugged bush country.  However, due to better protection, Laikipia lions are now calm around vehicles and we are able to monitor numbers through ID photos. In 2013, we are also starting a new collaborative study examining the impact of lion predation on Grevy’s zebras and other species of conservation concern.

Tsavo Lion Survey: The Tsavo National Park complex is counted among Africa’s six remaining large lion populations, but there are no data on actual numbers or densities. Heavy bushmeat snaring has reduced prey numbers and no doubt directly killed many lions, as has retaliatory killing by illegal grazers in and around the Parks. In order to target conservation activities, we require real data on lion densities and distribution throughout the entire 22,000 km2 region. In collaboration with Panthera and the Kenya Wildlife Service, LWL is conducting a detailed survey using spoor transects in 2013, a quick and accurate way to assess lion density.

 Images on this page James Warwick Photo (c) James Warwick, http://www.jameswarwick.co.uk