Mara Predator Conservation Program

Supporting stable, healthy predator populations in the Greater Mara Ecosystem by providing scientific evidence for conservation action.

Research efforts focus on three predator species; lions, cheetahs and wild dogs. Identifying each individual is essential to accurately obtain true density estimates of predators and population trends over time, and keep track of family dynamics. Each individual predator is provided with a unique ID code. Our guests can help to supply clear photographs, which are then put into ID catalogues.

Lion collars are used to gain insights into the species spatial ecology, particularly their movements across and onto unprotected land and to document potential conflicts with local communities.

Cheetah populations are declining at a rapid rate. The main causes of their decline in Africa are attributed to direct persecution due to livestock predation, habitat fragmentation and depletion of their preferred wild prey species. Because more that 70% of the cheetahs live outside of protected areas, there is always a high likelihood that they will encounter and kill livestock. As a result, retribution by local pastoralists has been on the rise in recent years. Many cubs are lost to predators and interference by tourist vehicles (accidental deaths by running cubs over or interfering with a kill). Cub survival chances can be increased by reducing the number of vehicles around a sighting and enforcing safe distancing by safari vehicles.

Following a local extinction in the 1990’s due to an outbreak of canine distemper, we are excited to witness the return of two packs of wild dogs into the region. In order to keep these new packs safe, it is crucial to vaccinate domestic dogs and cats against canine distemper and rabies as they are the diseases’ primary carriers.

 

 

Livestock depredation inside the bomas at night is a major cause for retaliation by herders as it results in large numbers of their animals dying mostly as a result of stampeding by the frightened livestock themselves. Weaker traditional stick bomas are the major targets of these attacks due to their ease of access by predators. With increasing incidents of human-wildlife conflicts being reported, the following mitigation measures are being introduced to enhance livestock security and therefore improve tolerance towards predators by communities in these conflict hotspots: livestock herders training sessions; recycled plastic pole bomas; predator deterrent lights and boma reinforcements.

Wildlife poisoning remains a major threat to the survival of predators (including birds of prey) in the Mara. In response to this, the Mara Predator Conservation Program works to create awareness through establishing a network of groups to assist in curbing the spread of poisoning incidents. Engaging communities through awareness creation forums as well as increasing their capacities to respond to conflict incidents in order to promote coexistence is a core component of their outreach.

We support the work of this important project by providing accommodation for their researchers in our Masai Mara camps, assisting in basic vehicle maintenance in our workshop and helping with seats in our aircraft for their employees. Our guides report sightings on new cubs as well as any injured predators.

If booked in advance, a presentation can be arranged for our guests in camp.