Lion Monitoring

Ewaso Lions is working to complete a region-wide census and identify all lion prides and individuals in the Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem. Initial identification of lions, behavioural data, and lion associations will distinguish the number and structure of prides in the area.

We are actively monitoring individual lions in our study area and identify each individual by its unique whisker spot pattern, and produce identity cards for each lion. Lions in a pride are rarely together at one time and this highlights the importance of recognising individuals. We monitor individual lions from project vehicles and conduct prolonged observations in a non-invasive manner.

We estimate lion population density by counting the number of known individuals in the study area, and map dispersal zones where lions move between protected areas and community-owned land. Manes in adult males or tufts around the necks of young males reveal sex classification. We estimate the sex ratio through all sightings of lions that can be sexed, and estimate age from size and degree of speckling on nose and dentition.

This lion census directly supports lion conservation by providing a more accurate estimate of lion numbers in order to shape conservation management of lions in this part of Kenya. Within our Samburu study area, we are currently monitoring 50-60 lions.