Linking to LINC
On the 22nd of January a small group from the wider Laikipia area attended a LINC training program run by Nadia de Souza from Lion Guardians. LINC- the Lion Identification Network of Collaborators- is an open source software developed as a tool for lion researchers to store, manage and share data about individual lions, creating a rich network of conservation information that crosses international and inter-institutional boundaries. This allows researchers to more accurately monitor lion populations and better understand the connectivity between them; a critical aspect of maintaining genetic viability within increasingly isolated populations.
The LINC training group
Participants at the training learned how to use the LINC software to incorporate lions from within the Laikipia landscape onto the system. This included training on how to take the best photographs for LINC, how to enter photos of new lions, and how to check these individuals against lions already recorded in the database by other researchers to look for any potential matches and connections. Through LINC, identification can be done using the built-in automated artificial intelligence identification tool, a first-of-its kind facial recognition software designed for animals such as lions that do not have unique patterning, like stripes or spots.
Getting lions from across Laikipia onto LINC will add to the data Lion Landscapes have from collared lions and help us to learn more about our lion population dynamics and how far our lions wander. This in turn will help reveal where the areas of connectivity still lie for example, if a lion previously recorded in Samburu is seen in Laikipia, we will be able to more easily recognise it and know its history. The ability to identify individual lions quickly and accurately, with or without collars, will also be vital in terms of conflict management. Rather than vaguely stating “an adult male killed livestock”, we will be able to identify the specific lion. This will help other livestock owners to recognise the livestock killing lion and so manage their livestock husbandry appropriately when that lion is nearby.
In order to maximise our knowledge on lion individuals and, at the broader scale, lion population dynamics and movements, we need to add as many photographs of lions across the Landscape as possible. Lion Landscapes will work with stakeholders in the area to record and manage these photographs and data on LINC.
If you are interested in contributing to the Laikipia LINC database please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what photographs are needed and how best to send them.
To find out more about LINC please visit www.linclion.org
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