Our Community and Conservation efforts continued throughout December, including the festive period. Lioness Jua from the Topi Pride was collared whilst twenty Lion Ambassadors help to foster coexistence between communities and predators in the Masai Mara.
We provided a month of food for rescued birds of prey in the Rift Valley and sponsored a friendly Christmas community football tournament in the Naivasha region.
Lion collaring enables scientists to determine the space use, activity patterns and threats that individuals face in their environment. The information collected from the GPS collars is used to provide data-driven solutions and recommendations to help protect lions and the local community.
In the past, the primary objective of the Mara Predator Conservation Programme for collaring lions was to study the dispersal and mortality of male lions, how pride females overlap with unprotected areas and to map conflict hotspots. However, in 2022 the team documented the loss of two of the five collared lions due to conflicts after leaving protected areas.
The death of such a high proportion of those collared lions indicated that many more individuals are being killed by people than was previously thought. The findings resulted in a shift in the way that the new collars are being deployed and the priority has become using them for real time conservation action.
Niels Mogensen of Mara Predator Conservation Programme – photo credit Harry Blakey
We were pleased to be able to document the first collaring event that has taken place this year as MPCP collared lioness Jua from the Topi Pride. This pride’s core territory lies within the Masai Mara National Reserve, however they, like The Marsh Pride, have experienced numerous conflict events with humans over recent months, as herders bring their cattle into the Reserve to graze illegally at night.
It was for this reason that the pride was specifically selected by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Jua was selected as an ideal candidate for collaring as she is not pregnant, nor does she have any cubs. Her collar will enable MPCP to document the prides movements and respond quickly to potential conflict events. We sponsored the full cost of this collaring event as part of our ongoing commitment towards the conservation of lions in the Mara.
Felix Mecheni of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust helps with the collaring event – photo credit Harry Blakey
Some people do not like seeing a collar on an animal, until they learn why collars are so important for conservation. There are some points that are worth noting about the welfare of the lions being collared: The collars only weigh one kilo, which is about 1% of a lion’s body weight. At this level, a collar will not affect the lion’s ability to hunt or reproduce successfully.
MPCP always partner with KWS to ensure that all immobilizations that are needed to deploy collars are done by a qualified veterinarian. All the collars are fitted with timer and radio-controlled drop-off mechanisms, so the collar will drop off at a specific date of their choosing, or they can trigger the drop off via a handheld transmitter. We are pleased to report that the recent collaring exercise was a success, and that Jua and the rest of the pride are doing well.
A collar is successfully fitted on the lioness known as Jua – photo credit Harry Blakey
As part of their other ongoing efforts to foster coexistence between people and predators, MPCP have established a Lion Ambassadors Programme. Twenty ambassadors were selected from their own communities across twenty key zones. These men act as a vital link between communities and the MPCP.
A Lion Ambassador patrols his zone – photo credit Kenya Wildlife Trust
Their job is to ensure that human-lion conflict and potential retaliatory killings/persecution of lions is reduced and to encourage their community to embrace coexistence with lions. They also play a crucial role in responding to conflict incidences and collecting vital data relating to conflicts. Since they are often among the first responders to such incidences, they are able to play a big role in changing mindsets and dissuading communities to retaliate against predators. This month we paid the salary for one of the Lion Ambassadors.
Collecting data from a community member – photo credit Kenya Wildlife Trust
This is a small organization with a big mission; to understand, protect and restore raptor populations in Kenya. Birds of prey are important indicators of the overall health of an ecosystem. Our Loldia House guests are welcome to visit either of the two centers where they can spend time with the birds and learn about their rescue, rehabilitation and conservation.
Leah Chepngetich gives an educational talk to guests visiting the Naivasha Raptor Center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
A pair of rescued spotted eagle-owls are instrumental in the captive breeding program – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Each month we support the centers by covering the full costs involved in providing meat to the rescued birds. December was no exception; we donated a total of KES 100,000 to provide for the purchase of beef, chicks, rabbits and ducklings for the 65 birds that are currently in their care.
Meeting rescued Rüppell’s vultures at the center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
As part of our commitment towards uplifting of the lives of the children in Kasarani Village, we recognise the importance of supporting those who volunteer so much of their own time towards ensuring the children are fully supported in their football practice and studies. We were therefore pleased to be able to support the three TAFA leaders with a small grant towards their own expenses these past couple of months.
Sammy Gat, TAFA Founder and Sports Programme Director, coaching at a recent football tournament – photo credit Alisa Karstad
“We are immensely appreciative of the assistance you have extended to our leaders during their most trying times. Your support has gone beyond monetary contributions, making a meaningful difference during periods of hardship and uncertainty. Your contribution has given us the ability to pursue our goals and make a positive difference in our communities. It has uplifted our spirits and bolstered our determination to continue serving others. We cannot thank you enough for believing in our cause and recognising the significance of empowering leaders” ~ Sammy, TAFA Founder and Sports Programme Director.
As always, we provided a month’s supply of finger millet porridge so that all of the children can receive a meal each day at the centre.
With close to sixty lions and hundreds of head of cattle living alongside each other within the 49,000-acre conservancy, it is important to take appropriate steps to reduce the number of Human-Wildlife Conflict incidents that could potentially occur within Mugie, and beyond the conservancy boundaries in the community-owned lands.
One such measure that has been taken has been to collar three lionesses and one lion in four different prides. These lion collars allow the conservancy to monitor the various prides’ movements and better understand where predator-livestock interactions occur, as these interactions can potentially lead to human-wildlife conflict incidents.
Guests can head out with their Governors’ Mugie guide and our lion-tracking equipment to look for the collared lions. This is a perfect opportunity to learn first-hand how modern technology is being used by wildlife conservancy teams to mitigate conflicts between herders and lions.
We also encourage a visit to the Mugie Conservancy Headquarters where one can see the live tracking data on a big screen in the ranger’s control room and learn more about this method of conservation directly from those working with it each day. The collected data is used to update the cattle herders and communities on the whereabouts of the lions in order that they can navigate their livestock through safer areas that avoid the lions.
By Alisa Karstad, Impact Manager for Governors’ Camp Collection. If you would like to learn more about any of our Community and Conservation efforts you can reach out to us via email email@example.com.
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