Selenkay’s pride which is now composed of ten lions is well known for being a livestock killing group. This is because they have killed livestock in almost every corner of their territory and have been hunted countless times in retaliation. Fortunately, we have succeeded in stopping all lion hunting party’s intent on killing them except for the politically motivated hunt that killed their sister Narika two years ago. However, over the last two months, as if sensing the tension and danger in the air as a result of the conflict in Amboseli, this pride has confounded many that know their reputation. They have not killed any livestock and thus managed to stay away from the limelight.
This is Loomuguri, son of Selenkay and Ndelie, eating meat.
Throughout this conflict period, they have only been hunted once by a group of morans but not in retaliation and fortunately, we were able to come to their rescue. Yesterday, we found them relaxing close to Amboseli Porini camp in Selenkay conservancy with visitors having a field day clicking their cameras. The pride looked absolutely healthy and the cubs seem to have grown bigger beyond their age.
Nempatipat is the daughter of Selenkay and Ndelie
Ndelie, the resident male lion was with them and he seems to have grown in confidence as opposed to his usual skittishness with the car. Lioness Elikan who likes to go solo when she stops weaning, was out hunting and left the motherly Selenkay to be constantly harassed by the playful cubs under the watchful eye of Ndelie. The good news is that their primary prey species are available in plenty owing to the proximity to watering points. This is ideal lion behavior especially in a politically poisoned environment and we pray that they abstain from livestock killing as we wait for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
One of Selenkay’s cubs investigating the camera.
Lions in the Osewan area have been killing livestock consecutively for some time now. A few days ago, the new Moran age-set could stand it no more. They spread the word and summoned their age-mates, and went out on a hunt for the lions concerned. Lion Guardians heard about this in time for us to contact relevant stakeholders to aide us with stopping the hunt. We also instructed the Lion Guardians to do all they could to deter the warriors from killing any lions. After many heated arguments and much pleading, our Lion Guardians managed to stop the young Morans with the promise of an urgent meeting to chart the way forward. We consulted in an immediate meeting with the Group Ranch leaders where we listened to their demands. We eventually managed to cool them down and for the past few days now we have not seen any hunts.
A group of warriors gather for a lion hunt
Nimaoi is a favorite among the Lion Guardians
We have suspected Nimaoi to have had a new litter of cubs for sometime now. But every time we try to approach her to confirm our suspicion, we found her without any. Usually we found her with her older sub-adults. We had seen tracks of cubs several times, but actually confirming their existence by getting a visual of them was becoming quite difficult. In the afternoon, a few days ago, one of our Lion Guardians from Olbili, Mingati, gave us a direction of her signal and we went to verify. Upon meandering through several whistling thorns close to the lava, we found her with 2 male cubs, and her male and female sub-adults.
One of the cubs
They were all looking pretty and healthy. Nimaoi is one of our most likeable lionesses and we wish her good luck in bringing thes cubs to maturity.
It was a bright afternoon when we decided to follow up on a Lion Guardian’s report about Nemasi’s signal. After going through a very hard and stony area along the foot of Lemuna hill, and with the signal very clear, we saw a carcass of in the distance. At first, we thought it was an eland but as we got closer it was clear that it was a cow.
Eric checking for the brand and ear notches
Nemasi's first livestock kill
We were surprised because to the best of our knowledge Nemasi has never killed any livestock. In fact, this was her first! We found Lesoit, the male cub, guarding the carcass. He seemed to have been assigned that role with clear instructions not to allow any intruder anywhere near the carcass. It is a role he played admirably and with gusto! In fact, when we went to ascertain the brand, ear notches and sex of the cow, he practically charged us! He seems to have learned his role quickly given the fact that he is barely a year now.We found Nemasi and her two female cubs resting under a tree taking refuge from the hot sun.
Lesoit was not happy that "intruders" were near his meal
On our way to the bomas nearby, to give the report of the dead cow, we found a male and female cheetah that seemed to be doing ‘reproductive work’. These two cheetahs seemed to have been the only witnesses to the kill, as the herders were clearly nowhere to be seen. The two were so vigil over the presence of lions nearby that they couldn’t have cared less when we approached them closely.
These two cheetah were found near the kill
Birdie Naape has been known by the Lion Guardians since 2004. Her Maasai name ‘Naape’ was given to her by the Lion Guardians monitoring her because she moves large distances on regular occasions across her home range.
Birdie, one of the oldest females in the ecosystem, has raised many cubs
When Birdie and her daughters Nempirbil and Nanyorri gave birth to a combined total of 9 cubs, we knew if the cubs survive, they will be one of the biggest prides in the ecosystem. The cubs which are now almost a year, look very healthy. The ability of these females to hunt together ensures a constant supply of meat which is critical to the growth of any lion. Yesterday, we found this pride resting in the open with a view of a large group of buffalos grazing nearby. The buffalos, whose population drastically reduced after the devastating 2009 drought look to be on the increase, especially along the Chyulu ranges.
Nanyorri is a Maasai name meaning "she who is loved"
This pride lives in one of the wildest places in the ecosystem therefore standing a better chance of increasing in numbers and raising the cubs to maturity. Sikiria and Oyayai, who are the resident male pair, stay nearby and pay occasional visits. Having been sponsored, this pride, which is now 14 in total, is one of the biggest in the ecosystem and our Lion Guardians are happy to keep on monitoring them to ensure their safety.
Nembirbil and her cubs
It is now that time of year when female cows give birth. The calving can take place at any time, anywhere. Yesterday, an old livestock owner reported to our Lion Guardians that one of his favorite cows, which was heavily pregnant, had gotten lost in the bush and did not make it home. Our Lion Guardians set out immediately weaving through dense vegetation and shrubs as they follow the cattle tracks for hours on end.
As the bush gets denser, they find hyena tracks alongside those of the cow, instilling a sense of fear among the searching party. Everybody worried for the safety of the cow and her calf. The previous night, lion roars were heard not far from the area the cow seemed to be heading. In this area renown to be carnivore habitat, whatever gets lost in the bush rarely survives to see the light of day. The Lion Guardians searched every square inch, and just when fear that the cow was lost for good settled in their hearts, they saw the cow and her new born calf. Everybody gave a big sigh of relief and the delighted owner thanked the Lion Guardians for their good work and their unparalleled bush skills.
Mokoi carrying the calf back to the owner
Osewan is a re-known thicket that extends well beyond the jurisdiction of Lion Guardians. The Maasai section that inhabit most of this area are called Matapato and are yet to benefit from the fruits of conservation, thus highly intolerant to predators that kill their livestock. This is the same area in which one of our most beloved, well behaved and friendly female lions, Nosioki, and her cub were poisoned in October of last year. Even though, together with other stakeholders, we convened several community meetings in an effort to eradicate poisoning, we are still worried.
Pua, the resident male lion of Nosioki’s pride and the male cub that mysteriously survived the poisoning incident, have both been a permanent feature in this particular area, probably believing that Nosioki will one day suddenly show up. A few days ago, they were joined by 5 sub-adults from a female called Nooldoinyo, who also receives occasional visits from Pua. When these youngsters make a kill, they roar in an effort to invite their mother to the party and at times, they are known to even roar during the day. From our experience, this could invite trouble because every livestock lost will be attributed to them and retaliation might not be far off! Just a few days ago, they killed 10 goat kids in the same area and the 11th kid escaped by climbing a very tall ant-hill to outwit these youngsters. Understandably, people were not happy but we managed to cool them down.
Pua the resident male of Noisoki's pride
Another group of lions from Eselenkei Group Ranch, who are also Nosioki’s off-spring, are known to inhabit part of this thick bush in Osewan. A male lion called Manenkop from Selenkay Conservancy has been making occasional visits in search of company but has now been there for the last 2 months. This brings the total population of lions in this particular communal area to a staggering figure of 11! This is an immensely high concentration of lions in a communal area without adequate monitoring. This is the same area in which we lost five lions in a span of six months last year. We therefore urgently need money to immediately employ at least 3 Lion Guardians from the Matapato section to monitor this area in which our current guardians are restricted. The protection and safety of this significant proportion of lions that we monitor will now depend on your willingness and ability to be part of the solution.
It was a normal day like any other for Lion Guardian Mingati Makarot form Olbili zone. He woke-up early enough to see the tracks of different wildlife species before they were destroyed by passing cattle. Before long, he saw tracks of 2 big male lions. He suspected who they might belong to, but wanted to be sure of their identity. After a few kilometers, he saw 2 lions basking in the sun and immediately identified them as Kasayo and Lormanie, the inseparable pair that patrols part of his zone and was impressed by the size of their manes.
Mingati using radio telemetry to look for lions
When he retreated back to the main road from the bush, we met and as any Maasai do, we started exchanging news. He briefed me about his work, lion movement patterns, and community issues from his area and I did the same. I then informed him that this year, we might move the annual Lion Guardian Games forward and inquired whether he was ready to defend his title as the spear throwing champion. He immediately became animated and laughed, vowing to destroy his competitors early on with the first throw and leave them to play catch-up while watching their every move, and then finish them off with the second and final throw. He talks more forcefully and says ‘last year, because of my age and size, I was afraid of the bigger Morans, but now, I fear no one’. He thanked me for informing him of this and vowed to start practicing.
Though he is small in stature, Mingati is a fierce competitor
We are pleased to present you the Lion Guardians 2011 Summary Report, which can be downloaded here. The full length Annual Report (1.3MB) can be found here.
We have had an incredible year, and have started initial expansions of our lion monitoring and conflict mitigation work in Tanzania. We look forward to hearing any feedback or comments from you about our progress this year.
We hope you enjoy these reports, and encourage you to visit us at www.lionguardians.org to follow our work or make a donation.
On behalf of the entire Lion Guardians team, I would like to express great thanks to all of our continuing and new 2011 donors and supporters. Thank you for your belief in our mission and your support in helping us to realize it.
Leela Hazzah, PhD
Founder & Director, Lion Guardians
After several fact finding missions aimed at exploring the possibilities of expanding into Tanzania, we now are hoping to finalize everything in the next few months. With funding from Panthera, the Lion Guardian program is ready to start around Ngorongoro Conservation area on a pilot basis and we will work closely with Serengeti Lion Project in the area. Several meetings with our colleagues have been successful and there is even the possibility of an expansion to the Maasai Steppe as well.
One critical area has been along the Kenyan-Tanzanian boundary. The Kenyan side of the border had experienced about 16 lion killings before last year. We expanded to that area in September 2010 and since that time no lions have been killed. Our Lion Guardians worked closely with other stakeholders within the Amboseli ecosystem and did a commendable job. The problem is that everything changes the second lions cross over the border into Tanzania. A single depredation incident is enough to justify a hunt. Unfortunately, the majority of these hunts have been successful. In the last year alone, about five lions from the Amboseli ecosystem have been killed just across the border in Tanzania.
Lion Guardian zones
Recently, we held a very well attended cross-border meeting with all the major stakeholders including government officials from both sides and everything looked bright. We again held a follow-up workshop, both sides were in attendance. Several recommendations were made and time –lines were issued. Just when all was looking good, one of Tato’s male lions was killed in Tanzania in a retaliatory attack!
The cross-border meeting
A few days ago, our Director Dr.Leela Hazzah and Luke Mamaai visited Sinya on the Tanzanian side where they were warmly received by community leaders who are keen to embrace the Lion Guardian program. While there, they gathered some facts about the area and the possible collaboration stakeholders and returned very excited and eager to start. At this point we are only awaiting the official invitation and permission from TAWIRI, the Tanzanian governmental branch in-charge of wildlife. Once permission is granted, everything else will fall into place.
Luke and Dr. Leela Hazzah at the meeting
Lion Guardians need your help in bringing the Tanzania expansion to fruition. Help us by making a donation now so we can continue to successfully mitigate human-carnivore conflict in high risk zones, such as Tanzania.