Living With Lions
To conserve viable populations of Africa’s large carnivores by developing management techniques that foster coexistence in Kenya
Living With Lions (LWL) is a conservation campaign located in Kenya with a focus on developing and promoting practical, realistic and effective measures to restore and conserve lion populations outside of formal protected areas. Rooted in traditionalist pastoral culture and emphasising scientific enrichment, LWL aims to maintain ecological functionality and genetic connectivity between the few large local parks and management areas.
In 1997, LWL originally formed as the Laikipia Predator Project with a concentration on initiating the first science-based effort to confront the rapid decline in lion numbers outside of protected areas in Kenya. The Laikipia Predator Project expanded its efforts in lion conservation and protection by initiating new projects in different regions: the 2004 Kilimanjaro Lion Conservation Project in the Amboseli region of Kenya, which gave rise to the successful and now independent Lion Guardians organisation in 2011, and the 2008 Mara Predator Project in Kenya's famous Masai Mara region, which works with community-based conservancies that are fundamental to the survival of wildlife in the northern Serengeti ecosystem.
The success of LWL has been due to developing new programmes deeply rooted in local culture through the multidisciplinary approach of refining ancient methods of livestock protection by integrating scientific approaches to retain the most effective aspects of old techniques. Current projects are designed to be applicable in unprotected areas throughout lion ranges and consist of the Tsavo Lion Survey, the Laikipia Predator Project and the Mara Predator Project.
Moving forward, LWL will use the Tsavo Lion Survey to assess lion density using spoor transects, as population information is outdated and inapplicable for current assessments. Updated and accurate data on lion densities and distribution throughout the 22,000 km² Tsavo National Park complex is necessary to target conservation activities when heavy bushmeat snaring has reduced prey numbers, killed lions and created retaliatory killing by illegal grazers.
Lions may be in decline in the Masai Mara ecosystem, yet despite its ecological and economic importance this population has never been studied in detail. The Mara Predator Project will develop a sustainable, long-term monitoring programme in the northern Mara region, documenting current population size and future trends, as well as addressing conservation issues faced by lions in this region.
Introducing "citizen science" to Kenya, the project has been specifically developed to involve tourist camps and lodges in lion monitoring efforts. Trained guides submit sighting reports and photographs, and guests are encouraged to upload ID photos. This system has enabled LWL to cover a large area at minimal expense, and has given the tourist industry a strong participatory role in conservation. The project currently covers over 1,000 km² of communal conservancy land north of the national reserve, and has thus far documented 128 adults and subadults in 13 prides. LWL is expanding monitoring to include periphery prides, is adding new conservancies to the project area and is planning more detailed studies of movements via GPS collars.
WAZA Conservation Project 13002 is implemented by Living With Lions, with support provided by the Denver Zoological Foundation, Philadelphia Zoo, San Francisco Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Society. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the Kenya Wildlife Service, Maasailand Preservation Trust and numerous private landholders and local conservancies.
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