Wild lions in Kenya are sending text messages to conservationists, or rather, their GPS collars are, in order for tracking of their whereabouts to take place. Lion mapping is important because human-lion conflict has resulted in the deaths of too many lions in recent years. Text messages every hour are sent to a server and translated into email messages, so researchers can see where the lions are, and if they are too close to livestock.
Loss of lion habitat and farming operations nearby have led lions to sometimes seek food in the form of domesticated farm animals. Farmers retaliate for their animal losses by killing lions. The retaliation is believed to mainly be poisoning of lions by lacing dead prey animals in the wild with toxic chemicals.
Kenya’s lions in the wild reportedly could disappear in about twenty years if the current rate of lion death continues. About one hundred were killed every year from 2002-2009. The total number of lions in Kenya has already declined to just about 2,000. Cameroon and Nigeria have already lost their lions.
Living with Lions works to help conserve and research wild lions in Kenya. Their Lion Guardians program functions by protecting both lions and livestock so farmers are less likely to kill lions. The Lion Guardians track the big cats carefully, and know their locations and movements. They also witness many tragic lion poisonings. Just recently they reported on their blog, “The male cub that survived was barely a year and even though cubs are normally weaned by 8 months, they are not independent of adults until 18 months and we therefore gave him zero chance to survive on his own. Having mysteriously survived the lethal poison, the Lion Guardians have been on the lookout for him.”
Image Credit: Falense/WikiCommons