MEET THE LIONS

Our friends at Ewaso Lions have been studying the prides that live in Samburu and Buffalo Springs since 2003, with the aim of understanding how large carnivores and human populations can better live together. Led by Shivani Bhalla, who previously worked for Save the Elephants, the study was kicked off by an extraordinary incident that took place in Samburu in 2002 when a young lioness adopted an Oryx antelope calf and took care of it for 16 days. This unprecedented behavior was recorded on film by Saba and Mara Douglas-Hamilton and broadcast on Animal Planet as the famous film Heart of a Lioness. It put Samburu on the map, and for a while Kamunyak “the blessed one” (the gentle lioness) became a household name across the world.

Africa’s lion population has plummeted, reduced by 90% since the 1940s. Kenya now has fewer than 2,000 left. That decline is largely down to loss of habitat and run-ins with humans, who suffer when lions attack their livestock. Farmers and pastoralists have traditionally retaliated by indiscriminately shooting, spearing or poisoning lions. Lions need all the help they can get and we are dedicated to protecting them.

Ewaso Lions are passionate about the big cats but make every effort to put people first by understanding their problems and trying to address them, believing that the success of lion conservation hinges on the involvement of the local people who live alongside lions. On safari with Elephant Watch Camp, you can help gather data for Ewaso Lions with our guides who have all been trained up and are part of the Lion Watch team, and learn about their programme for harmonious co-existence between people and lions. Part of this includes offering adult education to warriors and expanding capabilities of wildlife rangers and community leaders. It’s made a huge difference already.

Best of all you’ll meet the many lions we love – the superb huntress Nanai and her loving sister Nabulu from the Koitogor pride, with their crèche of five young cubs – the lone pride male, Lguret, or Jabdu and Korti from the Borana pride, also with cubs. Then there’s the famous Nashipai, the grand old dame of West Gate and mother of Nanai, one of the first lionesses identified back in 2003, who was a brilliant tree-climber as an adolescent but in her old age has taken to killing livestock. She keeps the Ewaso Lions team extremely busy, but her pride have inspired a new generation of warriors to fight on behalf of lions and ensure that we will hear them roar in Kenya’s wild north for centuries to come.

Learn more about the researchers’ great work at www.ewasolions.org.

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