University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Population Dynamics of the African Lion (Panthera leo L.) within the Maasai Mara Region of Southern Kenya

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

The newly formed Naboisho Wildlife Conservancy in southern Kenya is a 20,000 hectare ranch that is collectively owned by 500 Maasai tribesman. As a result of this recent, locally-inspired conservancy, numerous tourism investors and non-profit organizations have been invited to develop businesses and research opportunities in order to facilitate the conservancy’s growth and stability. Monitoring and protecting big cat populations that thrive in this landscape is a cornerstone of developing conservancies like Naboisho and is the backbone of the tourism industry in Southern Kenya. In 2010, a research project was established by the Mara Naboisho Lion Project and African Impact to census, identify, and continuously monitor lions within this conservancy. As of September 2012, 59 lions from six different prides have been identified and profiled within Naboisho. This minimum population estimate was achieved through visual observation, ground tracking, and, most recently, with 12 camera traps strategically located to identify remote and elusive lion prides. Individuals were identified by unique whisker spot patterns which, once mapped, were uploaded into a database to ensure no lions were counted twice. GPS coordinates were recorded whenever a sighting was made in order to determine home range sizes for both prides and individuals. Initial results after two years of study have indicated that lion density in the conservancy may constitute one of the highest in the world, placing Naboisho in the center of numerous global conservation initiatives.

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Population Dynamics of the African Lion (Panthera leo L.) within the Maasai Mara Region of Southern Kenya

The newly formed Naboisho Wildlife Conservancy in southern Kenya is a 20,000 hectare ranch that is collectively owned by 500 Maasai tribesman. As a result of this recent, locally-inspired conservancy, numerous tourism investors and non-profit organizations have been invited to develop businesses and research opportunities in order to facilitate the conservancy’s growth and stability. Monitoring and protecting big cat populations that thrive in this landscape is a cornerstone of developing conservancies like Naboisho and is the backbone of the tourism industry in Southern Kenya. In 2010, a research project was established by the Mara Naboisho Lion Project and African Impact to census, identify, and continuously monitor lions within this conservancy. As of September 2012, 59 lions from six different prides have been identified and profiled within Naboisho. This minimum population estimate was achieved through visual observation, ground tracking, and, most recently, with 12 camera traps strategically located to identify remote and elusive lion prides. Individuals were identified by unique whisker spot patterns which, once mapped, were uploaded into a database to ensure no lions were counted twice. GPS coordinates were recorded whenever a sighting was made in order to determine home range sizes for both prides and individuals. Initial results after two years of study have indicated that lion density in the conservancy may constitute one of the highest in the world, placing Naboisho in the center of numerous global conservation initiatives.