We have our first radio-collared Ewaso lion! On Thursday the 28th of January, I managed to locate Lguret at 6:36 am. Lguret is a maneless male who I first saw in July 2008 in West Gate Community Conservancy (WGCC) with 2 other males. We called these the “Real Lions” because they came from outside the national reserves, and were truly wild and not habituated to tourist vehicles like the lions in the Reserves. The coalition of 3 lions moved to Samburu National Reserve (SNR) in September 2008 and have been resident in the reserve since then.
Lguret was spotted in the Ewaso Nyiro river with the other male – Loirish. I stayed with them until the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) vet arrived, Dr Stephen Chege. The two males did not move much from the dry river-bed and only stood to drink from a nearby elephant waterhole and to change position each time the sun was on them.
After Dr Chege arrived, we made plans and decisions of how the lion will be darted and from what position. I drove into the Ewaso Nyiro and Lguret was darted a few minutes later. Both males jumped up after Lguret was darted and moved up the river-bank into the saltbush.
Lguret eventually sat down a few minutes later and we were able to come out of the vehicles. Dr Chege worked on the health of the lion and took necessary samples, Raphael (Ewaso Lions) and David from Save the Elephants worked on attaching the collar whilst I took all the required measurements. Lguret was down for a bit under an hour. Rangers from SNR kept an eye on Loirish, the other male and reinforced the security within the area.
Taking required measurements
Eventually the antidote was administered and Lguret came fully round under an hour. We stayed with him to make sure he was in good condition and not affected by the collar and the operation overall.
Lguret recovering well after the radio-collaring
The radio-collaring operation was a success and we now have the first Ewaso Lion collared! This is the first time that movement data from a lion in Samburu is being gathered and this information is crucial for lion conservation and the management of the ecosystem. I hope that he will move to WGCC and we will be able to learn this key movement between the reserves and the community area.
Many thanks to Paul Thomson for these great photos
Special thanks to the team from Save the Elephants and the African Wildlife Foundation for their assistance with the radio-collaring operation.