Lion Habitat

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Lion populations within Kenya are exposed to a rapidly changing human-occupied landscape.  Lions are subjected to habitat loss, prey depletion and human-lion conflict.  At the heart of this conflict, is the need for lions to have a sufficient prey base and safe refuges within human-occupied lands.  Through our research, we explore the availability of suitable habitat for lions.  We have completed this in the Westgate Community Conservancy and hope to continue in other Community Conservancies in the future.

We apply modelling techniques to identify suitable lion habitat.  Within Westgate, we found that 21% of highly suitable habitat exists for lions during the day, and 29% during the night.  The Core Conservation Area emerged as highly suitable during the day and, especially at night, a contiguous region of highly suitable habitat is available between the Conservation Area and Samburu National Reserve.

This study provides the first maps of suitable lion habitat outside protected areas in the Samburu-Isiolo ecosystem.  It demonstrates how modelling can be applied to an area to understand lion habitat requirements. This modelling approach can be applied to other Community Conservancies neighbouring the protected areas, to advise on potential habitats that may be set aside as safe refuges for lions, therefore, allowing for the provision of contiguous high suitability habitat and enabling lions’ safe dispersal from the protected areas.