Loirish the Lion Killed by Gunshot

Warning: Graphic Photos Below

On Friday the 5th, a male lion was killed by gunshot within our study area in Samburu county. This marks the first time a lion in our study area has been killed by people since 2010. The lion was an 8-year-old male named Loirish, which we had been monitoring since 2008. It appears that a group of warriors happened to come across Loirish as he rested with his brother, and they shot him. Tracks indicate the brother, Lguret, is alive and unharmed.

The Ewaso Lions team is still investigating the reasons for the unprovoked killing. We have experienced human-wildlife conflict in this area before, following incidents when lions attacked people’s livestock. In this situation, there seems to have been no livestock killed. An additional misfortune is that Loirish was one of our GPS collared lions that was providing important location data which we could use to help warn herders. The collar was found along with the lion’s severed head and remains in the remnants of a fire. Without the location data recorded by the collar we may never have learned of Loirish’s fate.

We are extremely saddened by the loss of Loirish, a lion we came to know well over the past five years, especially as he is only one of 40 resident lions within the Samburu region of our study area. We are still actively working with the community and local officials to determine what course of action will take place. By working with the community to understand this event, and the motivations behind it, Ewaso Lions can help to ensure that losses like this are minimized. We will provide updates as soon as we are able.

The severed head of Loirish was burned by whomever shot him.

The lion’s paws were cut off and taken.

Please Help Us Run for Lions

This Saturday, May 4th, Ewaso Lions is holding our 4th annual Running for Lions half marathon in Samburu. We are so excited to see the community come together under the banner of lion conservation.

We need your help to raise $500 for the event. It’s a small bit of money for a huge positive community event.

Runners take off in the 2011 Running For Lions race. (Photo by Tony Allport)

This year there will be two races: a 21km half marathon for elders and warriors, and a 7km race for women (the community requested to separate races for men and women). The races take place in the stunning Westgate Community Conservancy just west of Samburu National Reserve, here in northern Kenya. We are sponsoring the race this year with Sasaab Lodge, Westgate Conservancy, and Carter Safaris.

As usual, the prizes consist of goats!

Life in Samburu is hard — security issues, human-wildlife conflict, drought — so Running for Lions offers people a day to come together, have fun, and raise awareness about the positive benefits of lions and wildlife. Please help us make this year’s race the best yet.

Please support the race by making a donation through the link below. We only need $500 for the event. Any amount will help!

Click here to donate

Announcing the new Kenyan Kids on Safari Camp 2013

Our Kenyan Kids on Safari programme started in 2009 through the support of our friend Todd Cromwell. Initially, the programme involved taking children on safaris into Samburu National Reserve to give them a positive wildlife experience. Surprisingly, many children who live just on the edge of the Reserve have never even been inside.

Shivani introduces the upcoming KKOS Camp to students at Lpus Leluai Primary School.

More than 100 children have been taken on safari through this programme. We give the children digital cameras and binoculars so they can take their own photos, which we later print for them, so they share and remember their experiences in the Reserve. To date, Sasaab Lodge and Samburu Intrepids have supported this programme, and children from Sasaab village, Lpus Leluai, and Kiltamany Primary schools have benefitted from these safaris.

In 2013, we are initiating a new and exciting experience for children in Samburu. This month, we will hold a Kenyan Kids on Safari Camp in Westgate Community Conservancy. From April 17—20, children will be taken on bird walks, game drives, watch wildlife films and documentaries, and participate in workshops and sporting events. On the final day, four local primary schools will participate in a Wildlife Drama competition.

Children from the four schools were selected to participate through a creative competition with the theme “Conservation and Conflict”. Seven children with the best artistic entries from each school were invited to participate in the Camp. The results from the creative competition were fantastic – we had lions made out of beans, birds made out of sand and much more!

> Read more about Kenyan Kids on Safari here.

Here are some of the winning entries from the creative art competition:

Children submitted entries into the art competition in order to get a spot in the KKOS Camp.

A lion made of beans! One of the entries for the art competition.

The following is a winning poem by Antonella Sainety:

Lion my best friend
Lion my friend I pitty you
Lion my friend I love your nature
Lion my friend I like your beauty

What can I do lion
What best fit you lion
Where better keeps lion
Why are you in danger

Sad to hear people complain
Sad to hear people hunting you
Sad to hear dead lions
Sad to miss lions in Kenya

Hoi lion extinctions!
Lion extinction hurts my heart
My ears
My brain
My spirit
And destroys the environment

Hoi lions bring benefits!
To students
To teachers
To parents
Hoi – conserve Lions!

Lions my heritage
The splendour of my country
The beauty of my mother land
Hoi Conserve lions for future generations

 

Exposure Tour Shares Conservation Lessons Across Two Communities

With the recent severe lion conflict occurring within the Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy, Ewaso Lions initiated an exposure tour for residents to visit Westgate Community Conservancy to learn about the conservation activities taking place there, which might be adapted and applied in Nakuprat-Gotu.

Nakuprat-Gotu is a primarily Turkana community located to the east of Samburu Naitonal Reserve in northern Kenya. Ewaso Lions organized the exposure tour in February in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Nakuprat Conservancy management, Samburu National Reserve and Westgate Community Conservancy.

The Chairlady of Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy discusses wildlife conservation and tourism benefits to community members during the exposure tour visit to Samburu National Reserve.

Following discussions within Nakuprat in late January, it was apparent that general conservation awareness among the community was low, and there were concerns over carnivore predation of livestock. Importantly, community members wanted to get involved and become informed. We decided to bring together the residents of this conservancy and take them to Samburu National Reserve and Westgate Conservancy for an exposure tour.

Gabriel Lepariyo, Warden of Samburu National Reserve, welcomed the group and addressed key issues such as the importance of wildlife within the region and the benefits of having tourists visit Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Charles Lekirimpoto followed up with a discussion on how important working with the communities was in conservation.

Next, the group stopped into Save the Elephants research centre, where David Daballen, head researcher, addressed the group about poaching and the current problems facing elephants.

The Chairlady of Nakuprat-Gotu, Josephine Ekiru, was instrumental in bringing together the key community members and encouraging them to learn from this experience and to take the message back to their homes and spread the knowledge. She challenged the group to learn to live with wildlife and to frequently report any problems.

The group spent the afternoon visiting Westgate Community Conservancy and was welcomed by the Interim Manager of Westgate, Francis Lalampaa, the Grazing Chairman, Michael Lesachore, and the Chairman of the Board, Ltepeswan Lesachore. The group discussed the various steps in how Westgate became a successful Conservancy and the benefits it now receives through wildlife – which include school bursaries, water projects, health clinics, security and much more.

Chairman of Westgate Community Conservancy discusses the benefits his conservancy has received from wildlife.

Steve Okoth, the Community Warden from Kenya Wildlife Service, addressed issues such as compensation for human death, the importance of reporting on any wildlife conflict and building on a successful relationship between the community and the wildlife officials. Over lunch, we were able to show the group an educational and informative film on the importance of natural resources and how better to protect livestock against predators. Following this, the group visited the Core Conservation Area and Buffer Zone in Westgate to learn about successful grazing management in the area.

The Nakuprat-Gotu community members responded very positively to the talks and freely spoke of their problems with wildlife. We were impressed with their honesty and also their open-mindedness to conservation. The elders said they were impressed with what they saw on the exposure tour, and they are open to learning more about Westgate’s success in community conservation. They requested continued awareness about the importance of wildlife and the potential of receiving benefits through tourism or wildlife research within their own Conservancy.

Ewaso Lions thanks the Westgate Conservancy Management for all their assistance with the Nakuprat Community members and the Kenya Wildlife Service, Save the Elephants and Samburu National Reserve for their support during this exposure tour.

The group visits the grazing zone in Westgate Conservancy.

Jeneria from Ewaso Lions shows the group one of our reinforced bomas that prevents hyenas and other carnivores from preying on livestock.

 

Lion, Cheetah, Grevy’s Zebras, Hyenas Killed on New Highway

Earlier this week, Ewaso Lions met with other conservation stakeholders from Samburu and Isiolo districts to discuss the heavy loss of wildlife killed by speeding automobiles on the newly tarmacked (paved) A-2 highway.

In March, a lion cub was killed by a car as it crossed the road with its mother and brother. Then in September a cheetah was killed in the same spot. Just last week, a motorist plowed into two endangered Grevy’s zebras, a mother and her foal. With less than 2,000 lions remaining in all of Kenya, and only about 2,500 Grevy’s zebras left on the planet, can we afford to lose any more as a result of careless drivers?

In the past year we have witnessed a worrying amount of dead animals along the road, including striped and spotted hyenas, many small carnivores — and even an elephant was hit. In response, Ewaso Lions and several others called for a meeting to bring all conservation stakeholders together to discuss the issue and determine a course of action that might stave off this unnecessary loss of biodiversity.

Human loss is also a major concern as many people have been killed or injured along the road.

 

This striped hyena was killed on October 12, 2012. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for us to see such sights when we drive from Nairobi to Samburu.

The A-2 Highway runs north from Isiolo town, cutting between Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Shaba National Reserve, and borders Kalama Conservancy and Samburu National Reserve. It was recently tarmacked, which has enabled motorists to hurtle down the road at high speeds. The road bisects several wildlife corridors, so wildlife passing through risk being hit by cars, especially at night, as they cross the road mainly to access water sources.

The group is compiling road kill data to identify key areas along the roads where speed bumps and signage might help slow down motorists and make them aware of crossing wildlife. We will then advocate in close partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to encourage the National Highways Authority to implement measures to prevent further road kill.

This week’s meeting was held at Kalama Conservancy and included a range of conservationists (including a curious Beisa oryx).

Stakeholders present at the meeting:

Ewaso Lions Project
Grevy’s Zebra Trust
Kalama Community Conservancy
Nakuprat Community Conservancy
Reticulated Giraffe Project
Samburu Game Lodge
Samburu National Reserve
Save the Elephants
Sera Community Conservancy
Westgate Community Conservancy
Eseriani Wildlife Association

The Ewaso Lions Team Unites for a Day of Games

Our team is spread out across Samburu in both Westgate and Mpus Kutuk Conservancies, so we brought everyone together as a reminder we are one united Ewaso Lions team. For a full day we held a series of team building exercises and called this Tenebo Day, which means “together” in the Samburu language.

Our team has grown to 24 and includes our field staff, Lion Scouts, camp staff, plus members of the Warrior Watch programme. Everyone split into five teams and picked animals for their team names.

In this event, one person per team was blindfolded and had to navigate an obstacle course.

The blindfolded person had to rely on solid communication with his teammates to guide him through the course.

The elephant dung throw.

The winners – Team Buffalo – scored the most points in the events.

The winning team – Team Buffalo – got a very special prize: a 30 minute flight with elephant expert and Ewaso Lions partner Iain Douglas-Hamilton. The winners were so excited since they have never flown in a plane before.

Tug-of-war.

Lion conservation and research is often hard work, so part of Tenebo Day’s purpose is to have some fun and enjoy each other’s company.

Team Honey Badger huddles to stategise about the Scavenger Hunt.

Tenebo Day was a fun way to create cohesion among our team, test one another’s physical prowess, work on communication, and build trust. We are very thankful for Sasaab Lodge which sponsored the day.

Click here to see photos from last year’s team building day.

A Scout’s Story: Wild Dogs, Lions and Hyenas

Here is a story written by Moses, one of our Lion Scouts.

The other day I went on my daily patrol to monitor the Buffer Zone area and returned to camp at 3:15 pm. When I was in my tent recovering from the day, Shivani came rushing to camp after she had heard that there were wild dogs seen right next to Sasaab Lodge. She picked up Jeneria said that the lodge was saying the wild dogs are in Rokori area and we should go find them. I picked up my camera and ran out of my tent quickly to Shivani’s car and jumped in before the door closed. I have seen tracks of wild dogs and have seen them from very far, but never close up so I really hoped to see them.

We went slowly to the place where the wild dogs were last seen and before we reached that place Jeneria saw 3 wild dogs lying down under the tree. We went close to them and they didn’t move – they kept sleeping. This is the first day in my life I went that close to wild dogs. I saw that they almost look like domestic dogs but the differences are the bigger ears and different colour. Also the wild dog has a big head and they hunt in a group.

Two African wild dogs.

I was so happy now! We stayed with them until dark and they moved around. We thought they were 3 but suddenly there were 10. The thing that made me the happiest was that the dogs came close to the car and came very close as if they were not scared.

The following day at 6:30am, I heard on my hand-held radio that there are lion tracks in Ngare Ndare. I told Jeneria I would patrol that area to see if this report was true. Before I reached that place where the tracks were seen, I saw the vultures flying and landing down. I went to this place and found a carcass killed by lions. I tried to follow the lion tracks but this was very hard because the area was rocky and there was a lot of livestock grazing in the area.

Lions eating a warthog.

I decided to follow Sasaab lugga to see if the tracks crossed the lugga. I found the place where they crossed and where they came to drink water. I followed them and it looked liked they went into the thick bushes. I tried to call Shivani and Jeneria but it was very hard for me to get them because of the network problem. I instead stayed in the area and advised the herders to drive away the livestock that were grazing near those bushes because I knew the lions were in there.

I rushed back to camp to give the full report and we decided to go in the evening at 5pm. We drove towards the river and suddenly saw three spotted hyenas walking around as if they were looking for meat. We then saw the 3 lions at the same time. The hyenas were scared of the lions and ran away very quickly. They were the biggest hyenas I had ever seen and it looked like one was about to give birth.

The lions were hiding in the bushes and I was very happy to see them because I thought I would not see lions that day. I had seen Magilani from far one time long ago, but this was the closest for me to see lions in Westgate. It was Nanai, Nabulo and Sipen. The first time I had seen them was one year ago when we went into Samburu National Reserve and we saw the 3 females chase a leopard up a tree. Now, one year later, I saw them bigger. And they killed a warthog which we watched them eat for a long time.

I was very happy after these 2 days and if I had a goat to eat at that time, I would have celebrated by eating one.

Nanai, Sipen, and Nabulo on the warthog carcass.

 

View all our blog posts at www.ewasolions.org

Big Milestone: Shivani Submitted Her Thesis

Congratulations, Shivani! She finished writing and analysis, and has submitted her PhD thesis for review. The University of Oxford thesis is entitled “The Factors affecting lion (Panthera leo) sociality within the Samburu-Isiolo ecosystem in northern Kenya” and represents the culmination of the past several years of research and hard work by Shivani and the Ewaso Lions team. It is amazing what has gone into this thesis: 12 years of data, hundreds of hours spent in the field, dozens of people involved on various levels – and from it has sprung an entire wildlife conservation project.

Shivani and team worked around the clock leading up to submission. I joined her in Oxford for the final stretch. On submission day, we woke up early, did some final proofreading, and then headed to the printer. We carefully poured over it one final time. We raced through the rain – shielding the precious manuscript from getting wet – looking for the drop-off building. Inside, she filled out a form and handed over the thesis to the man behind the desk. He took it behind a door marked “Submissions” and that was that. Where were the balloons, the fireworks? Clearly, he had no idea of the milestone that was taking place.

Thesis printed and signed!

No matter. After, we had a hot drink and spent the afternoon sight-seeing with her sister, Shalini, and Jeremy, followed by a celebratory meal at the famous Eagle & Child Pub. The next day, we to the early bus to Heathrow, and I headed east to Kenya and Shivani went west to the United States to get ready for the big WCN Expo.

What’s next? At some point in the next couple months Shivani will return to Oxford for her viva where she defends her thesis in front of her review committee. From there, she is marked (graded), and she can do edits before the final submission after which she will receive her diploma and become Shivani Bhalla, PhD!

Shivani and Paul at Lady Margaret Hall, Univ. of Oxford.

Oxford

See all our blog posts at www.ewasolions.org

Annual KWS Carnivore Conference Held in Nairobi

Ewaso Lions attended and presented at the annual Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Carnivore Research and Conservation Conference in Nairobi from July 26th and 27th. It was an excellent opportunity to hear updates from our partners in large carnivore conservation across Kenya, and to inform the group of our latest activities in Samburu. This was our 5th time to present at this annual conference.

Jeneria, Ngila, and Emma at the KWS Carnivore Conference.

I provided an update on our conservation research and community programmes between 2011 and 2012. The update included progress such as lion monitoring in Samburu, the completion of a pilot study using camera traps, and new methods that the project has adopted in data collection. I ended my presentation by describing some new projects we are embarking on including Lion Watch, where tour guides from the reserves will use smart phones to get to know the lions of the area and share information with their guests, and Wazee Watch which will complement our successful Warrior Watch programme by focusing on engaging village elders.

Jeneria and Ngila gave presentations which were very well received. This was Ngila’s first time in Nairobi, his first time to give a presentation – and a presentation to the country’s key carnivore specialists! We are immensely proud of both Ngila and Jeneria. One of the KWS Senior Scientists even told the group, “It is great to have morans here giving presentations.”

Jeneria delivers a presentation on Warrior Watch at the KWS Canivore Conference.

Ngila and I gave a joint presentation on human-predator conflict and how reducing conflict is beneficial for both people and predators. He explained how the goals of the Ewaso Lions Conflict programme are to first collect all the baseline data relating to conflict depredation in the area and to analyse it to provide solutions for reducing this conflict. Ngila himself responds to conflict incidences and fills out a detailed questionnaire which includes information on the context, species, time, weather, etc. I continued by explaining the kinds of conflict we are seeing in Samburu, and providing recommendations for reducing livestock loss to carnivores.

Jeneria and Ngila delivered a presentation on our Warrior Watch programme. They explained how it was launched in 2010 with five warriors, and has now grown to involve 16 warriors in two community conservancies. Warriors report on wildlife sightings in exchange for education and a food stipend. Ten warriors can now read and write and use data sheets to collect information from the field on wildlife. Warriors have also been active in the field, where they have been using camera traps to capture images of wildlife and responding to conflict cases. Lastly, Ngila discussed a rigorous evaluation assessment of Warrior Watch which is underway.

We wish to thank all our partners who presented their work, and also the Kenya Wildlife Service for hosting this important gathering of the countries carnivore conservationists and researchers.

Ewaso Lions Launches New Website

We are happy to announce the brand new, completely redesigned Ewaso Lions website (www.EwasoLions.org). We’ve worked hard over the past year to make this a site that truly showcases our work, our challenges, and our passion for large carnivore conservation in northern Kenya.

The new website puts our blog up front so you can easily find out the latest news on lions, Warrior Watch, updates from Camp, and more. We also integrated our adventures in social media throughout the site so you can connect to us through Facebook, see our latest tweets, and watch our YouTube videos. You can also see our immediate needs and how you can help Ewaso Lions.

We would love to hear what you think.  Please write to us with your thoughts on the site, questions, or suggestions. We want to see our website continue to evolve and help us better connect with you, our friends and supporters. Please post your comments below!

A special thank you to our generous anonymous donor who funded the website project!