With our partners Ewaso Lions and University of California, we have just collared our first young male potential disperser! Wow…wait, what? I hear you cry. Young male lions, when they reach adulthood, leave their maternal pride to find territories of their own. This is known as ‘dispersal’ and is a dangerous time for them; they may spend years of nomadic wandering before they finally establish a territory. During this time, they are often forced out into sub-optimal areas by the territorial males. These dispersing males and females are the way in which new genes are spread through the landscapes and so their fate is important. We are trying to collar these lions with high tech GPS and accelerometer collars just before they decide to leave their maternal pride. We will then be able to track them as they make this perilous journey, and learn more about the challenges they face.
Livingstone is the name given to our first ambassador. He is 2.5 years old and has two brothers and a sister. They are part of the Plains Pride, and his mum, Victoria, has been a collared study lion for most of her life, as her mum and grandmother before her were too. We already know a lot about this pride but we do not yet know anything about the lives of those that leave it. Livingstone was named by the livestock managers on the ranch where he was collared. We let livestock owners name the lions in their area because it is hard to have a relationship with a nameless and elusive animal. But Livingstone will be far from that, maps of his movements and his antics will be sent out to all the livestock owners and stakeholders in the area, and he will soon be one of the best-known lions in the region.