Lion Census : KWS and Conservation Partners Methodologies and Standardization Workshop

A key need for lion conservation teams and the country at large is to determine exactly how many lions we do have in our 8 conservation areas. The initial phase of our partnership with KWS is to establish the actual population of lions in the entire country. This will form a baseline to determine the areas where the lion population is most vulnerable or at risk. The Census began in 2017 and is scheduled to run for the period of 2 years. After this period, we will review the findings with KWS and related stakeholders.

ICEA LION funded the KWS and Conservation Partners Methodologies and Standardization Workshop in July 2017 to the tune of Kshs. 0.46 Million. The workshop was conceptualized to ensure that we are effective in use of resources – time and money – to get the most value out of the investment.

Workshop Objectives

Participants at the workshop ranged from KWS representatives from most of the 8 conservation areas, Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Big Life Foundation, Mara Lion Project, Lion Guardians, Soysambu Conservancy, Born Free Foundation – Kenya, SORALO, Lewa Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, WWF Kenya, Africa Wildlife Foundation, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya, Tsavo Trust, Ewaso Lions, Marwell and ICEA LION.

At the workshop, conservationists were provided with a blank map of Kenya with various grids and were requested to indicate their area of operation in lion conservation. The resultant map looked like the one illustrated:

Averaged Raw Data on Lion Presence Obtained From Workshop Participants
Figure 3: Raw data as filled in by workshop participants. Participants filled in the squares according to their knowledge of the lion presence and absence. We asked participants to mark a square with a 0 (Absent) 1 (Occasional presence) or 2(Breeding population). This figure is simply the averag e of responses for every cell filled. In total, 339 out of the 651 cells were filled, representing 53% of the country. Since this figure is raw data, it should be interpreted with caution and is displayed here to provide a visualization of what the data looked like prior to analysis
Figure 2. Participants drew 40 areas of operation- ie the area within which their organisation works. The total are covered is 444,928km2, representing approximately 76% of the entire country. However, participants frequently reported to spending minimal time in particular areas, and so there remain large gaps in knpwledge. In particula, there is a large grouping of organisations , and much overlap along the border with Tanzania, representing good opportunities for collaboration. Meanwhile there was little representation from northern Kenya, with significant knowledge gaps.

An excerpt of one of the reports

Preliminary Outputs

As shown on figure 1 below, the entire park was uniformly covered by the survey team; a total of approximately 2,400KM were driven , with lion sightings made mostly on the North East and Southern parts of the park (black triangles).

Figure 1. Colored cells ranging from red to blue (Red indicate more effort and blue less effort)

The survey team did not sight lions on the western side of the park, although there reports and signs of lion presence in the area i.e. the team saw old spoor tracks and old scat. It is therefore possible that a pride exists in this area (dark blue circle). The team suspected that the WCK pride could be having some cubs as one of the females seemed to be lactating. Lions are known to hide their cubs.

Discussion and Conclusion

After the survey the team held a meeting with the park management to update them on progress and preliminary findings
The survey team sighted 16 lions in LNNP. However, this should not be interpreted to be the population of lions in LNNP s the SECR software durring anlysis, aside from taking into account the number of individuals sighted (capture) and re-sighted (recapture) it also takes into account the effort, habitat and capture history. SECR uses this data to essentially estimate lion density and will also estimate how many lions that may have been missed during the survey. Thus , a refined estimate of lions in LNNP will be provided in the final report which will be completed by December, 2017

As a result of the standardization workshop, the originally planned 8 census areas were reduced to 5. The census also realized skills transfer and creation of job opportunities. This is a true testament of ICEA LION supporting sustainable initiatives and positively impacting the people, planet and profit. The total investment made in the first census location at Lake Nakuru National Park by ICEA LION was Kshs. 0.82 Million.

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