Our new and unique Lion Watch programme was launched in April as we embarked on a 2-day training workshop for invited guides and rangers resident in Samburu National Reserve. I received assistance on the training from Dr. Irene Amoke from Oxford Brookes University who was well versed on the technological aspects of the training.
The training started with an exam! Unknown to the guides, I had to have some form of measure of impact and see how much they already knew. They all willingly sat the exam and I was able to gauge their knowledge of the lions and prides in the area. It was good to see how the two male lions – Loirish and Lguret – are very well known.
Following the exam, I covered how Lion Watch works and also gave a description on Ewaso Lions and the programmes we have initiated with the community in spreading awareness about the importance of lions. This was followed with a session on Lion Ecology. Most of the guides that attended the training were Bronze and Silver Level guides, and so I did not go into so much detail on the ecology aspects. I spent more time going through the conservation status of lions and explaining why lion numbers have declined throughout Kenya.
After lunch, I showed the guides how to age and identify individual lions. They all had a go at drawing lions’ whisker spot patterns and ear notches which caused great amusement amongst the guides. I then went through the individual lions of Samburu and Buffalo Springs. The guides also were given the opportunity to name two lionesses that had not yet been named. They came up with great names – Naserian and Nadala.
The next day Irene explained how we are using a new smartphone app called Wild Forms. The guides were each given a smartphone and shown how to collect data and take photos.
Following this, they sat their second exam. They were all nervous about this and hoping to pass the 60% mark to attain their Lion Watch status. They needn’t have worried – they passed with flying colours – the scores doubled on average from the first exam. At this time, I went through the rules of what a Lion Watch guide means and they were all happy to sign the code of conduct documents. Now, they were ready to celebrate! The Chief Warden of Samburu, Mr Simon Leirana, arrived and handed out certificates. Richard, the Manager of Intrepids gave out the very cool Lion Watch badges to each guide.
We are excited to announce we have 13 Lion Watch Guides in Samburu. The participating lodges are Samburu Saruni, Sasaab Lodge, Elephant Bedroom Camp, Samburu Game Lodge, Larsens Camp and Samburu Intrepids. Three rangers from Samburu National Reserve and our field officer Jeneria also participated in the training. The guides were all really excited at the end of the workshop and had some great things to say:
“I am very happy indeed. After working in this park for 15 years, I have learned more about the lions than ever before, in just 2 days”. Joshua Esokon, Larsens Camp.
“It is a new dawn for the tourism industry. Fabulous”. Elijah Leiririo, Elephant Bedroom Camp.
Samburu Intrepids was a fantastic host for the training. I am very grateful to Richard Yoga, the manager of Intrepids for his warm welcome and hospitality during the training.
We are scheduled to have a follow up meeting in June. The guides have already started collecting data and uploading it ti www.lionwatch.org. So there will be lots to discuss at the meeting. We’ll keep you posted on this and new, exciting programme.
Tags: Lion Watch