Narok resting in the heat of the day. Photograph by Ami Vitale
“If we cannot measure it, we cannot manage it, for how can we conserve what we do not know” ~Dr. John Waithaka—KWS Board Chairman at the official launch of Kenya’s National Lion Survey
About the survey
Lions are one of the most iconic species on earth. Yet lions are in trouble: they have lost 90% of their historic range and their numbers are thought to be declining rapidly with half of all wild lions estimated to have been lost in the past 25 years and with as few as 20,000 remaining in Africa.
At the heart of conservation is population monitoring: Conducting surveys is the best way of ‘taking stock’ and trying to assess whether or not our conservation efforts are having the desired effect. Knowing how many there are and where they are allows us to plan and prioritize conservation interventions and monitor their progress.
No country in Africa has ever conducted a national survey of lions, or any other predator. The Kenyan government, together with numerous NGOs, is trying to change this. In a hugely ambitious exercise, we aim to count lions within all source populations and assess their presence or absence throughout the country. While lions are the focus of the survey, we are gathering data on all predators and for Laikipia we are also particularly interested in cheetah and wild dog numbers and distribution.
77,595 km² will be intensively surveyed to provide accurate estimates of lion numbers in all potential source populations. Teams of researchers will search for and individually identify lions, using a standardized, cutting edge methodology .
580,367 km² will be surveyed by through > 3500 interviews with local experts. These data will be analyzed to assess distribution of lions and other large carnivores throughout Kenya.
How you can help
Right now, multiple teams of trained personnel are working in laikipia to find and photograph as many lions as possible. With only three months to conduct each survey, it’s a race against time. In this area we are also trying to count the cheetahs and wild dogs, so please keep a look out for all three predators.
Here’s what you can do to help:
1. Report the sighting ASAP
Photograph by Antonia Leckie on Loisaba Conservancy
Ideally one of the trained teams will attend the sighting to take photos and record additional data. So a quick report of your lion, cheetah or wild dog sighting would be extremely helpful. Even repeat sightings of the same individuals are useful. Ask your guide to report the sighting to the local survey team (your guide should know who they are) or to Antonia Leckie on +254 793 790 233, or Thomas Mojong on +254 707 154539.
2. Take and share photos
The types of photographs we need to ID Lion
It may take time for a survey team to arrive. In the meantime, please take as many pictures as possible of any lions, cheetahs and wild dogs you see. Remember to have the date and GPS correctly set on your camera. Key tips to make your photos usable are to focus on one individual at a time and take a picture of the ground or sky when switching to a new individual. For wild dog and cheetah, full body side shots of both sides are best. For lions please see our guide for taking ID pictures below. If your camera doesn’t have a GPS, ask your guide for a rough location and make a note. Photos and info can be sent to: email@example.com