Wed, 25 Jul 2012

Big Cats Monitoring Project

Annually, Kenya is losing 100 of its less than 2000 lions. A partnership between Basecamp Foundation, DyreParken and Stromme Foundation is working to reverse this worrying trend. To protect Naboisho Big Cats namely lion, cheetah and leopard a partnership agreement with Living with Lions and Mara Naboisho Lion Project has been developed to create a precise understanding of the Naboisho Big Cats.

The Mara Naboisho Predator Project (MNPP) is a long-term effort to monitor and protect the Big Cats population focusing on their individual recognition, monitoring their movement patterns, breeding success and behavioural response to human factors.

6 community scouts, volunteers, safari guides and Naboisho guests are working to profile the predators and develop a better picture of the conservation needs required. 5 training sessions coordinated by Kasaine Sankan and Neils Morgensen have been held to create consistency in data collection and data sheets developed to ease and standardise data collection.

Naboisho Lions

Three lion prides comprising 59 individuals have been profiled using identification photographs and whisker spots. At least 7 adult males, 16 adult females, 18 sub adult and 16 cubs comprise the lions identified. There has been a pride take over by the Enolerai pride and some young cubs may have killed by the new males.

The Olkisiausiu and Pardamat pride are yet to be profiled while monitoring of the Olkuroto pride comprising one male four female and two cubs have begun.

Enesikiria pride: This pride roams along Olo Morijo River, Hippo Pool, Rocky crossing acacias, Enesikiria River around c-circuit and KGS thickets

Naboisho Leopards

Although remaining elusive, 5 leopards have been identified in Naboisho including 2 females Serian and Kakenya and 3 males Olobor, Leshan and Leteipa. 3 leopards are spotted at night at Enoolera and Enesikiria riverine forest and one female has 2 cubs living next to Basecamp Wilderness Camp. The other females often sighted along Ololmorijo stream and below the hippo pools are still very shy.

Leopard monitoring has been ad hoc as the researchers focus more on lions and cheetah. It is very likely that more leopard patrol the night at Naboisho with sightings near the fig trees and molibany spring reported.

Looking Ahead

6 scouts with a specific duty of monitoring and protecting lions have been undergoing training on data collection. Kasaine Sankan and Niels Morgensen have in addition been training Naboisho safari guides to be on the lookout and report any conflict incidents. The scouts will join the team of volunteers and a field coordinator Dominic Ole Sakat to profile more lions, develop a better understanding of pride structure and search for the three elusive prides.

Noolera Pride: The Noolera pride consisting of 11 individual often found along Enoolera stream and Nembae croton thickets has three male adults and five females. The pride has 3 young members and is often hunting on the olmasiligi plain. Pardamat, Olseki and Ilkisiusiu Prides: The Olseki pride consisting of 23 individuals covers a territory spanning both Olkinyei and Naboisho Conservancy. Identification photos are being taken and monitored. The pardamat pride and Ilkisiusiu prides will be monitored in the next quarter. A pride comprising one adult male, four adult females and three cubs have been identified. This pride is found between Motorogi and Naboisho conservancies uses a croton woodland along the Olkuroto plain and is constantly harassed by livestock watering at the pools along the driver. One cub has since been killed and two people injured by the lions. The research assistant is monitoring this pride to assess its territory and viability in an area with a very high boma density. This three prides will be the focus for future monitoring.

Naboisho Cheetahs

Twelve (12) cheetahs have been found either visiting or staying in the Conservancy. Namunyak and her 5 cubs have been commonly sighted in the Olmasiligi and balanites plains. There is currently no evidence that she has left the conservancy since November 2010 when she was first spotted with her 2 month old cub. Namunyak has become a major attraction at Naboisho. The three brothers and another one male on the plain overlooking Olseki have been identified and occasionally visit Naboisho from Olare Orok and Ol Kinyei Conservancies respectively. The other two female Siri and Aureisho occasionally visit the conservancy.

On 31st July, an adult female cheetah with claw marks and a throat bite suspected to be from a lion was found dead at Olmasiligi. The identity of the dead female is yet to be established.

The information collected will be profiled on a web based database where Naboisho guests will have a chance to learn more and participate in predator identification. A second hand vehicle has been sought, and equipment such as binoculars and cameras to aid in data collection will be provided to the monitoring team.

Human factors such as conflicts with pastoralists and their livestock will be minimized through regular foot and vehicle patrols and a community predator awareness program will be launched to create awareness among community members and Naboisho landowners on the plight of the predators and the benefits associated with living with predators.

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