Every day, our Ewaso Lions Scouts put on their uniforms and head into the bush on patrol. The three Scouts bring an important research element to our conservation work. By collecting baseline data and monitoring long term lion and wildlife population trends, we can measure the progress of our work and design new activities that ultimately promote lion conservation.
Scouts are trained on all aspects of wildlife conservation including conflict mitigation, carnivore ecology, the importance of carnivores, GPS tracking and more. Scouts monitor lion and wildlife movement, gather data on abundance and distribution, and serve as wildlife ambassadors by spreading the conservation message to their communities.
Meet the Scouts
The Ewaso Lions Scout team consists of Francis Lendorop, Jeremiah Letoole, and Jackson Lenakae. All scouts reside in Westgate Conservancy in northern Kenya and have worked with Ewaso Lions since 2008. They have completed training at the Kenya Wildlife Service Manyani Field Training Centre to help with their field responsibilities and attend numerous trainings conducted by the Conservancy Warden of Westgate on security, radio protocol, and more.
On Foot With Lions
The Scouts, on a monthly basis, conduct a total of 24 fixed transects (each 3 km long) distributed across Westgate Community Conservancy (400 km2). Along the transects, they record numbers/sightings of lions and other carnivores, ungulates, and livestock. From 2011 to 2014, the Scouts surveyed the transects for a total of 2,750 days, with each spending an average of 172 days per year doing the transects. This is a huge effort in terms of monitoring carnivore and prey abundance and movement, and hugely complementary to the efforts of Westgate Conservancy.
Apart from the transect surveys, the Scouts also do patrols within Westgate Community Conservancy on the days they are not conducting the transects. During patrols they record sightings of lions and other carnivores, livestock, and also incidences of human-wildlife conflict.
These data, altogether, help in estimating and monitoring wildlife and livestock abundance and also in measuring the health of the ecosystem.
Toby Otieno, Ewaso Lions Research Manager, recently analysed data collected by Scouts from 2011 to 2014. We recorded a decline in both carnivore density and herbivore density in Westgate Conservancy from 2012 to 2014. Interestingly, as livestock numbers increased sharply between 2013 and 2014, we saw a decline in carnivores and herbivores at the same time. We will continue to explore the relationship between livestock and wildlife as we continue our Scout data collection and analysis.
Improving the Scout Program
The analysis revealed areas where our data collection can improve to increase accuracy and coverage. Looking ahead, we plan to digitize Lion Scouts data collection and patrols through the use of a smartphone data collection app called CyberTracker and the data management app called SMART. These are tools that are designed for recording scouts’ patrols and data collection, including patrol efforts, wildlife sightings, conflict data and almost any other kind of ecological data.