Friday, May 20, 2011

Kenya Lion Research Safari

Lion conservation recently became an issue of international concern when statistics revealed that lion numbers in Africa have plummeted to between 16,000 and 45,000. The lion population has declined by 30%-50% in just over the past two decades, a reduction largely due to habitat loss and conflict with humans. The lions in the Samburu / Buffalo Springs / Shaba ecosystem of Kenya are in an extremely vulnerable situation as they live in or adjacent to areas inhabited by nomadic people. Lions and their predatory behaviour have caused great resentment among the increasing rural pastoralist populations, and this has led to increased persecution of lions - lions continue to be shot, poisoned and speared.

This unique 9 day safari will provide you with an authentic and close-up insight into lion research in some of Kenya's most stunning areas. Spend 6 days with lion expert Shivani Bhalla in the Shaba and Samburu areas with 2 nights at Joys Camp and 3 nights at Sasaab Camp and then the last 3 days at Porini Lion Camp in the famous Maasai Mara in an exclusive conservancy with several resident prides of lion. To book this safari for your travelers, or to design a custom safari that includes these camps, please contact Porini Camps and Gamewatchers Safaris.

You will have the opportunity to be involved in this crucial research and 5% of the total safari cost will be donated to the Ewaso lions project (

Your time will typically include early morning and evening game drives when the lions are most active, participating in monitoring and recording and can also include the following:

  • Participate in Ewaso Lions tree project and Wildlife Cinema in West Gate. This involves visiting schools and also manyattas (Samburu homesteads) at night to show them wildlife films.
  • Carnivore 'call-ins' at night playing a recorded carnivore call and using speakers to call in carnivores as a method to estimate their density.
  • Engage with the community and complete questionnaires on conflict and perceptions of predators.
  • Track radio-collared lions.
  • Go on patrol with the Ewaso Lions scouts and help record data on predators and identify spoor tracks.
  • Help record data in the core Conservation Area
  • Investigate any conflict in the area, e.g. donkey killed by lion, etc...

About Shivani Bhalla: A Kenyan national working on her PhD through Oxford University, which focuses on the lions of the Ewaso ecosystem in Northern Kenya. Through this project, she is continuing and complementing the research she did for her Masters' degree (MSc) in 2003. She currently works in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves and the West Gate Community Conservancy with the objective to investigate factors influencing the lion population in the Ewaso ecosystem in Northern Kenya. The area of study includes the 3 National Reserves (Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba) and the West Gate Community Conservancy. This research will formulate strategies for the long-term conservation of lions by understanding the issues and threats facing their population, their movements in the wild and the extent of human-lion conflict. There is a huge knowledge gap in this area and it's her intention to address this.

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