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  • Writer's pictureJoni Overbosch

Tracking a coalition of 5 male lions

Long term research in Laikipia has shown us that conflict between lions and people can be effectively managed by collaring and monitoring lion movements, and giving livestock owners access to real time lion movement data. This allows livestock owners to be proactive and keep their livestock away from lions, or increase their protection of livestock when close to lions.

Felix and one of his brothers, taken by Lion Ranger Coordinator Boniface Lowoi this month.

In January 2020 we decided to collar Felix, one of 5 young males, because we feared that such a big group of young nomadic males would kill livestock in neighbouring communities.

Felix with his first collar and with his brother in January 2020, by Boniface Lowoi.

However, as illustrated by a random selection of Felix’s movement maps over the last year, Felix and his brothers spend the majority of their time on Loisaba. The rest of the time he stays on other conservancies/wildlife ranches like Kamogi, Suyian, Ol Malo and Tango Maos Ranch. He only occasionally visits neighbouring Morijo, NYS and P&D communities, and there have been no reports of livestock killed during his visits. For a coalition of five adult male lions, Felix and his brothers have caused little trouble!

On the early morning of the 22nd Nov 2020 Felix was re-collared as his previous collar stopped working. Heavy fog made the operation more 'atmospheric' than normal, as the team had to be extra alert to the presence of Felix's brothers. When recaptured the old collar showed some damage, which we suspect was caused by another lion.

Data from the new collar has allowed our team and the Lion Rangers to monitor Felix and his brothers, checking for unusual movements that may indicate a problem. On the 14th March 2021, Felix's collar showed much less movement than normal and when the Loisaba Lion Rangers checked on him, he was found to be fairly badly injured. Felix’s coalition had been in a territorial dispute with an unknown pride. One of his brothers was also quite badly hurt. Collaring male lions has revealed that they are killed in fights with other male lions more often than we had thought. Felix and his brothers, however, survived to continue ruling their territory.

On October the 5th, Felix was checked on by one of the Loisaba Lion Rangers after again receiving warnings from his collar that he was moving more slowly than normal. This time the news was brighter, Felix was mating with a female!

Felix looking smug after mating.

Felix's collar has revealed him and his brothers to have settled into being highly functional pride males, defending a large territory, breeding and selecting wild prey over livestock.

The map below shows the distinct ranges of current collared lions in Laikipia. Not all prides are collared and so other prides fill the 'gaps'. Five new collars are currently being shipped to Kenya and more collarings scheduled for November.

Maps of Felix’s movements since recollaring

Felix’s movements during his first month after recollaring - November 2020
Felix’s movements between 1 - 30 April 2021
Felix’s movements between 1 - 30 September 2021

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