Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Lion Killed On Highway

Jalalo, one of the females in the Ngare Mara Pride, recently lost one of her 1-year old male cubs. The lions were crossing the main tarmac highway (Isiolo-Archers Post) at night, accessing a swamp opposite the Chokaa Gate entrance, when a speeding vehicle hit the cub. We went to investigate the following day and identified the lion as Jalalo’s cub. She remains with one cub.

Many bumps have been put along this road, however the section outside Chokaa Gate remains without any. We hope that this will change in the future as each dry season, many animals will cross the highway in search of water. To date, we’ve recorded Grevy’s zebra, aardwolf and numerous spotted hyena that have been hit on this road.


Identifying the lion with KWS ranger


Jeneria looks at the spot where the lion was hit

New Video of Ewaso Lions

We are excited to share a new video in which Shivani talks about Ewaso Lions’ research, conservation, and community outreach efforts in the Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem. This video includes some key highlights of the work we do to record and monitor lions and other wildlife in the region, and alleviate human-wildlife conflict, as well as the education and local capacity building efforts that are helping to raise awareness of conservation issues among local populations.

So take a look, learn about our efforts to conserve lions, and be inspired to visit and experience for yourself the beauty and diversity of wildlife in this region of northern Kenya.

A special thanks to Pascal Fournié for making the video!

To watch, click the link below:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Think of Ewaso Lions This Holiday Season

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from Ewaso Lions Camp! 2010 is quickly coming to an end, but our team continues pushing forward with our field activities. It has been another exciting year mixed with both setbacks and successes. I write to you now in the hopes that you can help us close the year on a high note.

It’s been a difficult year from a fundraising standpoint. We have many important lion conservation activities in desperate need of funding. Much of our field equipment needs replacing after a lot of wear and tear in Samburu. Our vehicle maintenance costs have also increased due to tough radio-collaring operations and covering more mileage on rough roads after the Uaso Bridge was destroyed in the floods.  We want to expand our Camera Trapping programme to continue capturing exciting data on lions and other wildlife not seen by day. We are running out of money to pay salaries for our lion scouts and camp staff – the guys that keep Ewaso Lions going.  They also need new uniforms and equipment like GPS units and batteries.  We want to continue supporting the local community through our Warrior Watch, education, and wildlife awareness programmes.

Your donations have made a HUGE impact. I am completely honest when I say we cannot do this without you. Thank you for all your generosity and continued support.

We recently partnered with The WILD Foundation and now you can make secure tax-deductible donations to Ewaso Lions through this fantastic organization. I urge you to consider supporting our lion conservation efforts this holiday season and make Ewaso Lions your project of choice for Christmas.

We remain positive that lions and people can coexist without conflict, and our efforts are making headway towards this. But we need your help to get there!

Happy holidays from the entire Ewaso Lions team.

Warm wishes,
Shivani

Donate online today:

https://www.gifttool.com/donations/Donate?ID=1274&AID=1085
Or contact us to make a donation by other means.

Ewaso Lions partners with The WILD Foundation

Ewaso Lions is pleased to announce a new partnership with The WILD Foundation, a premiere international conservation organization dedicated to wilderness protection around the world for over 30 years.

This is an exciting opportunity for Ewaso Lions and brings enormous potential to help us grow and strengthen our lion conservation efforts. Through the new partnership WILD brings its solid network of conservation alliances, world-wide visibility and historic recognition as an effective and efficient conservation change-agent, and Ewaso Lions will serve as one of WILD’s field projects working to promote wilderness conservation in northern Kenya.

“We’re excited to welcome Ewaso Lions into the WILD family.  Their important work to protect lions in Kenya through research and community based initiatives compliments our other field work in Africa and around the world,” comments Emily Loose, Director of Communications, The WILD Foundation.

WILD will act as our fiscal agent, enabling our supporters to make safe and easy tax-deductible donations to Ewaso Lions.

The WILD Foundation protects the planet’s wild places and the wildlife and people who depend upon them, because wilderness areas provide essential social, spiritual, biological and economic benefits. WILD is the steward of the Nature Needs Half™ vision – an international movement to protect at least half of the planet, land and water, in an interconnected way. WILD works towards this vision through on the ground field-projects, policy and research and communications programs. Their flagship program is the World Wilderness Congress, the world’s longest running public environmental forum.

The WILD Foundation is a 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado and has received the highest (four star) ranking from Charity Navigator.

Ewaso Lions is a grassroots project whose mission is to promote the conservation of lions through research and community-based outreach programs. To donate to Ewaso Lions through The WILD Foundation, click here.

EL Final Mark_2dkred_2

News from the Reserves

A lot has been going on in the reserves over the past 2 weeks. Elephants are still here in their hundreds. All the big bulls are in musth and following the oestrus females keenly. The lions are trickling back with regular sightings of Nashipai and Naibor. Cheetah and leopards have also been seen. Yesterday I saw 4 hippos which was a real treat as they are almost never seen. They were lurking in the swamps at Maji ya Chumvi and I got a brief glimpse of them. And this morning I saw a caracal run across the road with a squirrel in its mouth!

Some more special moments:

– 48 reticulated giraffes in the river a few days ago. This was such a beautiful sight as you can see in the photo.

reserve-news-1.jpg

– 20 Somali ostrich – mama in the lead, followed by 18 young ones with the male bringing up the rear. Ostriches are only seen in a few places in the reserves and at times I go through weeks without seeing them.

reserve-news-4.jpg

– Mt Kenya has been visible and clear over the last 2 weeks. I have had spectacular sights of Mt Kenya (shown in the photo below with elephants in the foreground), the Nyambene Hills and Ol Lolokwe (the Samburu sacred mountain) every morning.

reserve-news-2.jpg

– 105 Beisa oryx on the plains in Buffalo Springs!

reserve-news-3.jpg

The Ewaso Nyiro is drying up quickly and all the animals are beginning to congregate along the river once again. I think there will be a long dry spell this year…

Dead hyena

Whilst I was in Shaba last weekend attending the management plan meeting for Isiolo County Council, I heard that a striped hyena was seen dead in Samburu National Reserve. As soon as I returned to Samburu I went to check it out. Unfortunately, by the time I saw the hyena, not much was left apart from some hair and a little bit of skin. It was not easy to establish the cause of death. There were patches of hair scattered everywhere with blood as well. But that was pretty much it. I could tell that the hyena had been dragged around quite a bit. I am not sure whether it was dragged later after it died or was actually killed by something.

dead-hyena-2.jpg

Collecting hair

dead-hyena-1.jpg

It is quite hard to see hyenas here. Striped hyenas are more common then spotted and I see them maybe 2 or 3 times a month. Tracks are quite common on the road, and the striped hyenas are seen mainly at dusk and dawn. Since 2003, I have only seen spotted hyena 3 times and we almost never hear them at night.

I recently supplied the wardens and management of the reserves information on wildlife poisoning so they are aware of how it is affecting wildlife in Kenya. Not much has been documented in this part of the country on poisoning and the more people are aware, the better.

Lastly, we are participating in WildlifeDirect’s business strategy. Please help us by taking this user survey, thank you.

usersurvey-invite.jpg
Or click on the link below: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/survey-intro.zgi?p=WEB227RWVDZXHW

Gypsy

Hello all! I am so sorry for the long silence on my side. I have been in the field for 10 days non-stop and have sooo much to report on.

I was in Shaba last weekend taking part in a workshop for the new management plan for Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. I am currently in the biodiversity taskforce and we are working towards setting up objectives and activities for the management plan, including how to deal with tourism pressure on animals, vegetation degradation and much more.

I have also spent a few days in the West Gate community area. I’ve recorded a lot of conflict over the last week and Raphael will write more about this soon. News from the reserve– you will be happy to know that Nashipai is back! More on this soon!

However, for now I have an appeal to put out. In January this year I purchased a Suzuki Maruti Gypsy vehicle for the fieldwork in Samburu. Named “Gypsy”, she really is a tough little car and does an enormous amount! At times, I cover more than 100 kms a day on rough roads monitoring lions, driving to conflict sites, conducting prey counts, transporting trees for planting at schools, driving scouts from one place to another and sooo much more. Gypsy is perfect in this kind of terrain and sails through the luggas, drives over rocks and soldiers through mud and water.

gypsy.JPG

The vehicle company I purchased Gypsy from, were very kind and allowed me 6 months to pay for the car. I have been fortunate to secure funds for part of the car payments however I am still short of $3000. I need to complete the car payments very soon (I keep getting small polite reminders from the car people!) and kindly request you to please make a donation towards Gypsy. Each contribution adds up and I am so grateful to all of you for whatever assistance you can give.

I will write again very soon with news from West Gate, the reserves and more…!

On a last note, we are participating in WildlifeDirect’s business strategy. Please help us by taking this user survey, thank you.

usersurvey-invite.jpg

To access the survey, click here:

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/survey-intro.zgi?p=WEB227RWVDZXHW

Naibor – a new lioness

I was driving in the reserve yesterday when I saw some lion tracks which I started to follow. After a while, I turned round a corner still following the tracks, when I saw her. I turned off the car engine and immediately grabbed my binoculars to see which female this was. I knew at once. This was a new female. She was quite wary of me and watched me keenly. I started to draw her whisker spots and photograph her. I aged her at approximately 3 years. But what struck me immediately was how white her face she was! I decided to call her Naibor – meaning white in the Samburu language.

naibor.JPG

I stayed with Naibor for a while to “get to know her”. She eventually moved off into the thick bush on the side of the road. As I watched, I suddenly saw her jump and leap up into the air. She had killed something! I could not tell what it was initially, but she kept leaping up and appeared to be “playing” with her prey. I then realized she had killed a slender tailed mongoose. She continued throwing it around and then finally sat down in the bush and started eating. I could not see her at this stage as the bush was so thick but could hear her eating.

I realized then that her nature reminded me of Nashipai 5 years ago. In 2003, when I first saw Nashipai, she was alone, and was seen playing with a tortoise! I don’t know where the lovely Naibor came from; most likely Kalama Conservancy as the area I found her in was not too far away. I hope I see her again soon.

The Ewaso Nyiro is still flowing and although the landscape is beginning to dry up slowly, pink and white flowers are still everywhere. On the way back to the camp after seeing Naibor, I was fortunate to see some elephants drinking in the river and a very cool white-bellied go-away bird eating some pink flowers!

eles-river.JPG

go-away-bird.JPG

Meanwhile, the search continues for Nashipai.

Many thanks to you all for your comments and interest in the Ewaso Lions. I wanted to answer a few questions I’ve received over the past few days.

Ntito moved out of the reserve with her cubs at a time when it was raining and most of the prey had dispersed. In most cases, the lions come back when it dries up and the prey begin to congregate along the Ewaso Nyiro. However this time, Ntito did not return. There is still water in the hills currently, and the animals are not back yet. However, I anticipate that over the next few weeks, the prey and predators will be back along the Ewaso Nyiro.

Killings camels – I’ve recorded many incidences of lions killing camels outside the reserves. A few lions can easily bring down a camel, and they find it much easier to kill livestock then wild prey.

Due to the small size of the reserves (Samburu and Buffalo Springs are approximately 300km2), fencing would not be a viable option as the animals need to be free to roam within their range, including the elephants who move frequently between Samburu and Laikipia Districts. Other wide-ranging animals such as wild dogs and cheetahs also use the reserves.

A few differences between lions here and lions in for example the Maasai Mara; it is rare to see more than 2 or 3 lions together here. Most of the time, the lions are seen alone or in pairs. I have seen the Koitogor Pride all together on only one occasion during the drought a few years ago. Females, males and cubs were all together, bringing down larger prey like buffalo and giraffe. However, normally one or two females are seen together and their main prey in the area is impala.

Male lions here don’t have very large manes. This male below, Lnchurai, was around a few years ago and he was the main male in the area. Maneless males have been recorded here too. However almost 2 years ago, 2 big maned males migrated to Samburu from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (South of Buffalo Springs). This was the first time that we have had such huge lions in the area.

lnchurai.jpg

More information coming soon! Also, there are a few stories from earlier in the year on the project website: http://www.ewasolions.org/diary.php

No sign of Nashipai

Samburu is so green and lush at the moment. It has rained quite a lot here and the reserves have transformed. There is grass everywhere and the shrub Indigofera is covering the area. Elephants are back in their hundreds, full of life and energetic after the lull during the dry season in February and March. Ewaso Nyiro (meaning the Brown River) is flowing and the elephants bathe and splash around in it as if it’s a huge jacuzzi… such fun to watch. This is a real contrast to a few months ago when the river was dry and the earth bare and brown. It is beautiful now, with flowers everywhere.

The photo below shows 2 lionesses chased by some elephants in the dry river bed in March.

dry-river-1.jpg

dry-river-2.jpg

But… with the rains and the new growth, finding lions has become really hard! I have spent the last week or so covering every corner of the reserves and haven’t yet seen a track. Some of the bushes are higher then my car and all I see is green! (I’ve also landed up in many ditches because I cant see the road!) It appears that the lions are on the edges of the reserves with many outside in the community lands. This is common at this time of the year. I have been getting reports that lions have been killing livestock in West Gate and also South of Buffalo Springs; the latest report coming yesterday where a camel was killed.

Just after the rains…

rains.JPG

A green Samburu

buffalo-springs.jpg

Some background to the main pride that I monitor in Samburu. Samburu (covering approx 169 square kilometers) has one main pride called the Koitogor Pride (named after the central hill in the reserve). The numbers of individuals has changed over the years with lions moving out. In 2003, there were 14 in this pride and this grew to 21 in 2005. However since then, many of the older cubs have left and unfortunately we haven’t seen new cubs in the area for a while. I am now trying to get a current estimate for the pride.

I have known Nashipai for 5 years now since she was about 2 years old. She was always seen with her 2 sisters; Nabo (meaning number one) and Ntito (meaning young girl). Over the years, Ntito moved off with her cubs and I haven’t seen her for more than a year. In 2007, Nashipai would always be with Sempei (meaning the fierce one), however sadly Sempei died in October last year after it appeared that she was poisoned. This year, Nashipai has been seen with Nabo and Uni (meaning three), one of the older females in the pride. However, none of the females have been seen since the middle of March.

Nashipai with Nabo

nashipainabo.JPG

Each time it rains and the lions leave the reserves, I always worry that many will not come back as lions are being killed outside. Its always a huge relief to get the first sighting of the main pride members when they start coming back to the reserves after the rains and after it has dried up a bit. Last year I hadn’t seen Nashipai in 6 months and then she turned up in January; it was great to see her. Between January and March, she kept wandering all over the reserves and I would find her in places where I least expected to see her. The river was dry and the lions were crossing between Samburu and Buffalo Springs daily (the Ewaso Nyiro separates the 2 reserves).

So, where is Nashipai now? I do wonder where she has wandered off to this time…