We’ve been working in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem – prime lion habitat – for the last 20 years and we’ve seen the changes. The landscape is facing more pressure than ever before; sprawling agriculture and growing populations means wildlife and human settlements are coming into much closer contact.
With this new adoption we want to draw attention to this incredible landscape, using the lion as our figurehead. Lions are not only important symbolically – internationally recognised as creatures of bravery, strength and pride – they are also important ecologically. If areas retain lions, it’s a sign that these areas are healthy and resilient enough to support of whole host of other species. And they do : wildebeest, zebra, elephants, topi, eland, gazelle, warthog, buffalo, and a huge variety of bird species too. Lions are, without a doubt, an indicator of a super healthy ecosystem.
In order to protect lions and their precious habitat, we need to look at the entire ecosystem. For instance, the wildebeest migration - an annual source of food for lions and other animals - is in direct response to the rains and without the water in the Mara river, it's estimated that up to 80% of the wildebeest population would die, effectively resulting in the end of the migration.
New surveys suggest that lions have disappeared from about 80% of their natural African range due to human development. Increased cattle grazing, large-scale agriculture and farming, and the subsequent reduction in lions’ natural prey means that they are coming into closer contact with humans and livestock, often with fatal consequences. Lions killed in retaliation with farmers is on the increase.
We are working with the Mara Lion Project as part of a new initiative to find out exactly how these challenges are affecting lions – both in terms of their behaviour and the health and size of populations in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems. Using this intelligence, we can help mitigate the conflict between people and lions as well as help secure this this fantastic landscape for future generations.