Lions in Kenya

Tsavo lions only ate 35 people

November 2nd, 2009 New research claims to show that the infamous Tsavo lions only ate 35 people and not 135 as previously believed. The lions have become famous as the worst man eaters in history as they terrorized a railroad camp in Kenya for nine months in 1898. Now an examination of the lion’s stomachs has revealed they were less prolific. More here

Books about the Tsavo lions

The Lions of Tsavo: Exploring the Legacy of Africa’s Notorious Man-Eaters
This book has received excellent reviews:
  • Deftly written …Patterson’s book must now be considered the definitive Tsavo lion study. Patterson’s research at Chicago’s Field Museum and Tsavo National Park – the most important wildlife preserve in East Africa – have established him as one of the world’s leading experts on lions as well as an important conservationist’ – “Publishers Weekly”.
  • ‘It was a great relief to find this wonderfully thorough, scientific, and hugely accurate tome …the thrill of so many new details (and newly found photos) put together in historical (Darwinian) biological and ecological perspective. – Peter Beard, Photographer, Naturalist, and Author of “The End of the Game”.’ More
And for a slightly lighter read there is Ghosts of Tsavo: Tracking the Mythic Lions of East Africa
From the bestselling Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award finalist, Phil Caputo, a riveting adventure travel narrative that tracks two scientists attempting to unlock the secrets of a unique breed of fierce, man-eating lions of eastern Africa. More

Loss of lions in Kenya blamed on policy

September 18th, 2009

Researchers from the Kenya Wildlife Service have reported that Kenya is losing about 100 lions each year, and that there are and now just 2,000 lions left in the country. Some observers, perhaps somewhat alarmist, have believe lions might be extinct in the next 10 to 20 years. The cause of the rapid decline of the country’s lion population is conflict with people. They are a threat to people’s lives and livelihoods, and locals retaliate by killing lions, often poisoning them with by a pesticide called Furadan. But this excellent article believes the root cause of these conflicts lies linked to Kenya’s wildlife conservation policies.

Although lions are costly to local communities and private landholders especially those who raise livestock, these renowned predators are very valuable economic assets.

Economists have estimated the value of a single male lion in Amboseli National Park in relation to tourism activities at over $500,000 during the course of the animal’s lifetime. More recent estimates suggest that Kenya’s remaining lions may be worth over $30 million annually.

Certainly, lions are a foundation of a national tourism industry that accounts for up to 10 per cent of Kenya’s GDP.

The fact that lions support flows of revenue and economic activity, yet are rapidly disappearing from Kenyan landscapes represents what economists call a ‘market failure’.

The marketplace, as currently structured, does not translate lions’ economic value into incentives for their production–hence their widespread decline.

At the root of this market failure is the reality that the beneficiaries of lions– mainly the government and private companies such as hotels, airlines, and safari outfitters–do not control the production or maintenance of lion populations.

Rather, the status of lion populations is effectively determined by the rural landholders and communities who live alongside lions.

Those landholders, however, are not the principal beneficiaries of the tourism industry and do not capture most of the revenue that lions generate. As a result, local people generally have incentives to exterminate lions rather than producing or conserving them.

More here

African wildlife news 2

August 20th, 2009

African Penguins under threat. Photo: Salimfadhley (Wikimedia commons)

  • The recent catastrophic decline in numbers of African penguins in the wild has raised alarm among conservationists. The bird are declining at all of their breeding sites. The penguins on Robben Island, South Africa, declined by 62 per cent between 2007 and 2008, leaving a mere 2,200 breeding pairs on the island, down from around 8,000 pairs in 2004
  • African village dogs are not a mixture of modern breeds but directly descended from an ancestral pool of indigenous dogs, according to a new genetic study of hundreds of semi-feral dogs. This means that village dogs from most African regions are genetically distinct from non-native breeds and mixed-breed dogs.
  • Pictures released by Conservation International depict a troubling development in Madagascar: the emergence of a commercial bushmeat market for lemurs
  • Six Botswana bushmen found guilty of hunting without a permit on their ancestral land have been set free with a caution, a lobby group says. Survival International said the “attempt by the Botswana government to punish Bushmen for hunting to feed their families has backfired”. BBC
  • 18 new invertebrate species have been described in South Africa, including spiders, snails, millipedes, earthworms and centipedes.
  • Lions face extinction in Kenya within the next 20 years unless urgent action is taken to save them. Every year the country is losing an average of 100 of its 2,000 lions due to growing human settlements, increasing farming, climate change and disease, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
  • Eco-Tourism activities have been suspended in Loango National Park, Gabon In 2002, late President Omar Bongo Ondimba put Gabon firmly on the map as an important future eco-tourism destination by nominating more than 11% of the nation’s territory as National Park to protect its vital rainforest and wildlife like the gorilla, chimpanzee and forest elephant. Seven years later, following the death of the President, a disagreement between the current interim government of Gabon and Société de Conservation et Développement (SCD SA) now prevents the country’s main eco-tourism partner Africa’s Eden from continuing its conservation-enabling activities in Loango National Park.