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Annual Report

Mara-Naboisho Lion Project

July 2012 -July 2013


Annual report, 2013 Community work Community meetings A very important part of this lion project is to work with and involve the communities that surround Naboisho Conservancy. One way of involving them is to have community meetings where we create awareness about the project and lion conservation. Dominic Sakat leads these meetings and we discuss how to prevent conflicts and try and change any negative perceptions and attitudes of lions and explain why lions are important for the ecosystem, culture and local economy. The Mara-Naboisho Lion Project has been fortunate to have had assistance from the Mara Predator Project’s assistant Kasaine Sankan, who has attended some of the meetings and shows the Living with Lions community film which highlights these issues. We have had several meetings in the past year. We were planning on having more but unfortunately there was insufficient funding. From the meetings that we held, people were generally happy to see us taking the time to reach out to them, letting them know what is happening, and showing that we care about the conflicts that they are enduring. Outcomes from these community meetings include: •

Increased understanding regarding the importance of wildlife, especially lions.

Increased interest in the idea of predator proofing their boma/setting up Turere lion lights.

Many community members request compensation to prevent them from retaliating but after our discussions the majority comes to acknowledge that it is better to prevent livestock from being killed in the first place.

A realization that non-conservancy members/land owners have more negative perceptions of wildlife, suggesting that they need to see more benefits from living close to conservancies in order to improve their attitude towards wildlife.

An increase in understanding regarding the importance of reporting conflict incidents rather than retaliating.


The creation of a consensus that poisoning should be prohibited and any person caught poisoning will be reported to the Kenya Wildlife Service by the community itself.

Visiting schools MNLP assistant Dominic Sakat has been visiting schools on a regular basis to discuss the importance of predators with the new upcoming Maasai generation. Outcomes of these school visits include: •

Pupils becoming more appreciative of and interested in wildlife.

Attitudes towards predators becoming more positive.

Finding that theuse of DVD’s is a useful tool when teaching children about wildlife

Survey MNLP conducted a predator survey across 100 homesteads. We were interested in general knowledge about livestock numbers, livestock losses to predators, recent attacks, perceptions and attitudes of predators, if they were interested in having help to secure their livestock enclosures etc. We are in the process of writing up of the results of this survey. Predator Proof Bomas MNLP has been involved with the development of four predator proof bomas over the last year. This is just the beginning however, as we plan to set up many more in the future in collaboration with KWT. We have also put up a trial of the Turere flashing light system on a boma that was frequently hit by hyenas, and on occasions, lions. To date the lights have proven 100% effective. This is also something we plan to develop further in the coming year. Conflicts Lion retaliations seemed to have been decreasing. From June 2012-June 2013, from what we are aware, only three lions were killed by people in the areas surrounding Naboisho Conservancy. During this period livestock predation was occurring, although this was also significantly lower than levels during the previous year. In comparison, during MNLP’s first year there were 16 lions killed by people between October 2011 and June 2012. The reduction in retaliations suggested that our community work, including the mediation


work by the respective conservancy management teams, was actually working. Another contributing factor could be that the conservancy has received a lot of rain and is retaining a lot of grass do to the controlled cattle grazing. This encourages many prey animals to stay within the conservancy, resulting in lions not having to leave Naboisho and predate on livestock. Perhaps the positive trend of conflict reductions was the result of a combination of these two factors. However, on June 4th a tragedy struck the MNLP and Naboisho Conservancy. Nashipai from the Enoolera Pride, the first lioness to be collared in the Mara with a GPS collar, was fatally poisoned along with her three, seven month old cubs. This poisoning happened 3.5 km northwest of Naboisho Conservancy. This event dispelled all notions that I had of fewer lions being killed as I now realize how easy it is for people to kill off lions without any trace. The only reason we found out about Nashipai was because of the collar – without this we would never have known that she had been killed. Now the question is how many more lions have been killed without us knowing anything about it? We are especially concerned about Nashipai’s Enoolera Pride mates who have not been seen for many months.

This map shows hot spot areas with known locations, from what we are aware of, where lion have been killed from June 2011-June 2013. Each red triangle represents one or more dead lions.


A Summary of the prides that utilize Naboisho Conservancy Enesikiria Pride This is the core pride in Naboisho Conservancy and including cubs it is also the largest; over one year of age, there are 9 males and 10 females. The pride has split into three groups. The largest is the maternal group which over the past year has had its preferred resting sites in the area either around Naboisho Camp or the Enoolera lugga. This group includes one male >1 year and seven females >1 year, of which six have a total of 14 dependent offspring. Three adult males are currently in control of this large group. The second group is composed of two adult females and their four 20-month old male subadults. This group split off from the maternal group when the males that used to be in control of the Enoolera Pride took over the Enesikiria Pride (see below) as the two females wanted to protect their cubs. In the coming year we will see whether these two females will rejoin the maternal group once their offspring become independent and leave. The third group is only composed of two lions, a brother and sister, now two years and senven months old that also belong to the Enesikiria Pride. They also left the main group when it was taken over by new males when they were 18 months old. They have been together ever since, ranging very far both to the east and west and have traveled to the neighboring Ol Kinyei Conservancy, where their fathers are currently in control. Again, the question arises as to whether the female will go back to the maternal group, which her mother is part of, when she becomes sexually mature.


Known home ranges for the Enesikiria Pride. The main maternal Enesikiria group in dark green and the second group that split off in light green

Enoolera Pride The Enoolera Pride used to be commonly seen by tourists in Naboisho, second to the Enesikiria Pride. In June 2011, this pride had five adult females and one female just below one year of age. In the fall of 2011, two of the adult females disappeared and in June this year, Nashipai was killed. The remaining two adult females, who each have three offspring, have not been seen since November 2012 and the younger female, which now is an adult, has not been seen since February this year. The Enoolera Pride was previously controlled by the three males who now are in charge of the Enesikiria maternal group, and were temporally taken over by the three males who originally came from the Enesikiria Pride. After these three males left in the fall of 2012 to move on to the Ol Kinyei Pride (see below), the Enoolera Pride have not had any resident pride males protecting them. The Enoolera Pride was the first to be collared. Even though the collared female only wore the collar for eight months before she was killed, and had small cubs for the majority of this time, we have been able to use the data to create a very good estimate of the pride’s home range. As a result, we have been able to document the extent to which lions that use Naboisho also range beyond the conservancy borders onto the unprotected community land. This is where lions are in the greatest danger from humans and is where the collared female and her cubs were killed. We now fear that the entire Enoolera Pride may have been killed, either by feeding on the same poisoned carcass as Nashipai or independently to this.


Enoolera Pride home range

Ol Kinyei Pride The Ol Kinyei Pride is large and has a total of 17 lions above one year of age. There are at 11 females >1 year and six males >1 year. Three of these males are adult (the former Enesikiria males) and took over the pride in the fall of 2012 when they kicked out the two males that had controlled the pride for a long time. When these three males came into the area, after having sired off-spring in both the Enesikiria Pride and the Enoolera Pride, the Ol Kinyei Pride split into two groups. The smaller group with pre-exiting cubs moved further north in order to keep the cubs away from the danger brought by the new males. The main group spends the majority of its time (66%) in Ol Kinyei Conservancy, hence the prides name, 20% in Naboisho Conservancy and travels onto unprotected land the for their remaining time.


Ol Kinyei Pride home range

Ilkisiusiu Pride Four females from the Ilkisiusiu pride have now been identified and despite intensive efforts to try to find more individuals, it seems as though these females form the current pride base. From our observations I do not believe that there are any resident pride males as every time one of these females come into estrus, they are seen mating either intruding males from OOC or one of the three Enesikiria Pride males. We have also seen that newborn cubs from Ilkisiusiu females are quickly killed by other males. It is very likely that there used to be more members in this pride but as I have recently heard about six lions (not confirmed) being killed in 2012 in an area which is part of the Ilkisiusiu home range, the four females may now be all that is left of this pride. One of these four known females has not been seen since January this year and there is currently only one young cub in this pride. This pride was the second to be collared and so far the collar has been on a female for seven months, giving us an ever expanding insight into the pride’s ranging area.


Ilkisiusiu Pride home range

Inbetweener Pride This pride, often referred to as ‘the strangers’, was first seen inside Naboisho Conservancy in June 2012 and although not having regular sightings, they are still being seen. As of June 2013, the pride has 10 females and two males that are more than one year of age. It is likely that they have come from the Masai Mara National Reserve because they are extremely habituated to the presence of vehicles. Despite this, they are often not easy to find. This could be because they are squeezed between the Enesikiria and Enoolera Prides, and so to avoid conflicts they may be choosing to remain concealed, making it harder to see them on a continual basis.


Inbetweener Pride home range

Pardamat Pride The Pardamat Pride has not been seen for a very long time. They used to range in the northern fingertip of Naboisho Conservancy and to the west in the Pardamat hills. However, when the conservancy was established, more and more people started to settle along the north-western border and even on the hills, where the pride had preferred resting sites. As a result, this pride has probably been pushed further northwest closer to Endoinyo e Rinka and become extremely elusive. The majority of the human-lion conflicts are most likely to have been caused by lions from this pride and so many of them may have been eliminated by retaliation.It will be surprising if any lions in this pride are left.


Pardamatt Pride home range estimated by known range in 2005-2006 and suspected present range if any are remaining

Emarti Pride In January and February 2012, two females with cubs were seen in the southeastern part of Naboisho Conservancy, and one of these females, still with her cubs, was re-sighted in September 2012. I believe that these lions are from the Emarti Pride and that they utilize Naboisho Conservancy for part of the year, entering by crossing the Talek River. Assuming that their offspring are all still alive, there should be at least seven lions >1 year of age in this pride. Despite attempts to search intensively throughout the night and using call-ins in May and June 2013 we were not able to find this pride. Perhaps this was due to the time of year so we will continue our search in a few months’ time. This pride is a top candidate to collar once they can be re-found.


Emarti Pride home range estimated by direct observations and suspected movements

Moliban Pride? There are definitely lions using the south-western part of Naboisho Conservancy, but the question is whether it is Olare Orok Conservancy’s Moniko Pride that comes in this area, a pride from the Mara Reserve or if there is a separate pride that resides there. Whichever lions utilize the area, they are very elusive as there still is a lot of human settlement there.


Suspected ranging area of a pride that utilizes the southwestern part of Naboisho Conservancy

Pride Enesikiria Enoolera Ol Kinyei Paradamat Ilkisiusiu Moliban Emarti Inbetweener Total

Status Exact Exact* Minimum number Guess Minimum number Unknown Minimum Exact Minimum

Total # above 1 year of age 19 9* 17 0 4 ? 7 12 68

*Assuming they are still alive as they have not been seen this year.

A minimum number of 68 lions >1 year of age currently utilize Naboisho Conservancy as part of their home range. If it is the Moniko Pride from the Olare Orok Conservancy(which includes eight lions >1 year old) that utilizes the Moliban area of Naboisho Conservancy and if this forms a significant part of their home range, the total number of lions using the conservancy would rise to 76 lions. It is important to note however, that close to 50% of these lions are coming from only two prides; the core prides of Naboisho and Ol Kinyei Conservancies respectively. Behavioural Observations One of the project’s objectives is to investigate the effects that conservancies have on lion behaviour and to analyse changes over time. One way of doing this is by comparing the current behaviour of Naboisho lions to the behaviour of the lions that I looked at during my first study in this area before Naboisho Conservancy was established. For my first study in 2005- 2006, I compared lion behaviour of lions inside the Mara Reserve with lions outside the reserve (the Pardamat Pride) to document the effects of pastoralism and protection on lion behaviour. Another way is to examine behavioural changes over the two year period that MNLP has been running for. In summary, the creation of the conservancies has had a very positive effect on lions when they stay within the conservancy boundaries. This is especially true for the core Enesikiria Pride, which does not leave the conservancy boundaries and are successfully breeding and rearing their cubs.


Probably as a result of losing their fear of Maasai living in close juxtaposition, the main differences in lion behaviour from before the conservancies were created and today include: •

Lions come out from their resting places earlier and often before sunset

More activity during light periods

Roaring before sunset

Hunting on open plains in light periods

Even during daylight, staying and finishing kills before retreating to resting sites. During my first study, when lions made a successful hunt and were not able to finish the kill before sunrise, they would leave it and not come back to it. •

Large pride home ranges

Extensive pride home range overlap

Extensive pride movement outside conservancy borders despite high prey

abundance •

Large cub recruitment and high survival rate

As discussed in the last annual report, one of the most interesting findings while studying lions in and around Naboisho Conservancy has been prides swapping males. The Enesikiria Pride and the Enoolera Pride had a coalition of three pride males each. The original Enesikiria Pride males took over the Enoolera females after chasing off the original Enoolera males. These males in turn took over the Enesikiria females. Both male coalitions sired offspring with the females that they took over. However, only the males that took control of the Enesikiria Pride are doing what “normal” pride males are supposed to do; staying around protecting their cubs and chasing away male strangers. The other coalition of males did not stay around after siring cubs with the Enoolera females. Instead they went to the Ol Kinyei Pride, chased away the two pride males there and now have cubs with the females. One possible reason behind the swapping of males could be a way to avoid inbreeding. Shortly after this swap took place, the daughters of the former Enesikiria males became sexually mature. Therefore if this swap had not occurred, the males would have been mating their daughters. This male swapping continues to have implications of the lions in Naboisho. Over the last year the Enoolera females have been without pride males, leaving the cubs vulnerable to


intruding males. This could explain why the females have been leaving the conservancy onto unprotected community land, retreating to nearby hills with their cubs despite high prey abundance within their home range in the safer surroundings of the conservancy. Lion Collaring It was with great relief and satisfaction to be able to attach GPS collars to Mara lions in the last year, the first time in history. The first collaring took place in October 2012, and despite the first collar only being on the Enoolera lion for eight months before she was killed, it has still provided the project and Naboisho Conservancy with very valuable information. The second collar was attached to a female in the Ilkisiusiu Pride in December 2012, and is currently still functioning well and continues to give valuable insights into her movement patterns. With the GPS collars we have been able to: •

Show true pride home ranges vs. those estimated through direct observations (see table below)

Document lion movements outside conservancy boundaries onto unprotected land and into other conservancies

Demonstrate the dangers that lions are in when entering unprotected land

Document lion movements during different seasons and in relation to prey movements and rainfall

Help advise conservancy management on lion locations especially those with cubs so that cattle grazing can be modified accordingly

Find and identify new members of the pride by tracking collared individuals

The map below shows the home ranges for two different prides highlighting the difference between direct observation vs. collar information and how much the lion movements overlaps with Maasai homesteads.


Large yellow and blue areas= home range of Ilkisiusiu and Enoolera Prides respectively formed using data from the GPS collars and small yellow and blue areas= home ranges estimated by direct observations. Each white pin represents a Maasai homestead Home ranges (Km2) Pride Direct Observation GPS Collars

Enoolera 19.74 97.97

Ilkisiusiu 6.41 192.28

Homes ranges are estimated using Minimum Convex Polygons

As highlighted in this report, MNLP is succeeding in documenting the extent to which lions move out of Naboisho Conservancy onto unprotected land and lion are still being killed. We have also shown that the conservancies are having a positive effect on lions, so long as they remain inside the conservancy boundaries. This emphasises how important Naboisho and Olkinyei Conservancies are as an element in the matrix of the Mara Conservancies, the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Mara ecosystem in general. MNLP has also shown just how important lion collaring is if we want to collate and understand a true picture of the Mara lions. It is quite expensive and time consuming to attach a collar to a lion, but the information from doing so is invaluable. MNLP has only been able to attach two collars so far, but the plan is to attach more as soon as the chance presents itself. In the time ahead, we need to prioritise our efforts in working with the local community, creating awareness on the following aspects: •

The links between lions and the resultant benefits that the communities are receiving;


•

Why lions and other wildlife need to leave the conservancies and utilize the land beyond its boundaries and why it is not possible to put all wildlife inside the protected areas.

I think that this is probably the biggest threat to future of all wildlife. Many people have the perception that the conservancies were formed as to keep wildlife, especially lions in one place and thereby creating an environment outside the conservancies whereby people can live with their livestock undisturbed by wildlife. It is because of this no-one kills lions inside the conservancies, even if livestock is killed there, but on the contrary if lions cause trouble outside the conservancies people might think they have a right to eliminate lions. If attitudes and actions do not change, all lions that leave the conservancies onto unprotected land, which is approximately 80% of Naboisho’s lions, will slowly but surely be eliminated over time and only conservancy core prides will be remaining, greatly weakening the gene pool. We cannot blame it all on ignorance regarding the importance of lions. For some individuals, discontent with wildlife is the result of feeling that they are not getting enough benefits from the conservancies and all of the different stakeholders will need to come together to find solutions to deal with this.


Thanks to all...

In partnership with A special thanks to all those who have made a donation via our website http://www.mnlp.org/donate and through other means as well.

Stay tuned for more field updates. Niels Mogensen Project Manager - a special thanks to our sponsors

Annual report 2012 2013  

Annual Report for the Mara-Naboisho Lion Project

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