A new project at Loisaba Conservancy, in collaboration with Lion Landscapes and other partners, is utilizing technology to prevent livestock attacks before they occur.
Large, wide-ranging carnivores such as lions are typically among the first mammal species to become endangered in areas shared by humans and livestock. Their presence in a human-dominated landscape, such as northern Kenya, is a symbol of harmonious coexistence. Lions, as apex predators, play a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy, balanced ecosystem, influencing everything below them, from soil nutrients and disease to plant, prey, and scavenger populations. If lions are doing well, the entire ecosystem is probably doing well as thus the ability to support the people who rely on it.
Loisaba Conservancy rangers who have been trained and equipped by Lion Landscapes to become Lion Rangers provide boots on the ground, closely monitoring lion movements, preventing human-carnivore conflict by informing livestock owners of the lions’ whereabouts, and shadowing lions when they move into conflict areas. The Lion Rangers, for example, are trained to visit bomas, identify practices that may expose livestock to lion attacks, and assist herders in better protecting their livestock.
Livestock owners in Laikipia on the other hand are also finding new ways to coexist peacefully with lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs. Livestock owners like Issak Kosgei are also armed with a mobile phone app developed by Save the Elephants and Vulcan Inc. that allows them to track the movements of collared lions in real time. This same app assists Lion Rangers in keeping track of collared lions and preventing conflict. Knowledge of lion movements and nonviolent methods to redirect them results in fewer cows being lost and more lions being saved.
Tracking collars are meticulously fitted to ensure the lion’s comfort. There has been no evidence of injury or negative impact from the collars after more than 200 collars were placed. Learning about lion ecology, research, and management, as well as how to better protect livestock from lion attacks definitely will help local students become community champions for lions and encourage them to seek ways to coexist.
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