Welcome to the Mara Predator Project Blog!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Posted by Sara Blackburn at 2:31 AM

Welcome to the new blog for the Mara Predator Project! Here you can follow the day to day life of some of the lions in Koiyaki on the north-east border of the Masai Mara Reserve. This aim of this blog is to keep past visitors and interested readers up to date on the day-to-day lives of our known lions, many of which may have been stars of their safari. Feel free to add us to your favourites, and please visit our project website here.

Firstly, a quick introduction to the project and myself. My name is Sara Blackburn, and I work as the Project Biologist of the Mara Predator Project (MPP). The Mara Predator Project is a new project run by Living with Lions (LWL) - a organization that works to protect lions in conflict with humans. You can read all about Living With Lions here, and visit the MPP project page here. LWL projects include the Laikipia Predator Project, the Kilimanjaro Lion Conservation Project, and the Lion Guardians Program, all of which are successfully reducing threats to lions in Kenya. This work would not be possible without the fantastic LWL team, who you can visit here.

The Mara Predator Project was started in mid-2008, and has several main aims. Our first is to assess and monitor the lion population. We can do this by finding out how many lions there are and where, working out pride ranges and associations, and looking at the sex, age and breeding status of each lion. All this information helps us work out the health and status of Kioyaki's lion population, and gives us a base for monitoring changes. Secondly, we aim to include visitors and tourists to the area in lion conservation. This is where you come in - I'll explain later.

In order to achieve the above, we need to be able to identify our lions. You can read all about how we do this on the MPP Lion I.D. Database here, or in the following informative posts. When a new lion is identified, we create an ID sheet, calculate its age and build a collection of images that can be used for future identification. Essentially, we also note where the lion was seen and which lions, if any, it was seen with. This helps us build a picture of pride ranges and associations. All our lions are given a name and I.D. number, and put onto our lion IDENTIFICATION DATABASE.

The project is currently based at Serian Camp - one of the MPP's sponsors. From Serian and the surrounding camps, safari-goers can work with the camp guides to identify the lions they see on game drives, using Lion I.D. booklets. I.D.ing not only allows guests to learn more about the life and history of each lion, but aids us in our data collection. By reporting lion sightings and submitting photographs to allow us to confirm the I.D. and update our records, we gain essential information on each lion's whereabouts, helping us monitor the population.

So, how can you help? If you have recently visited a camp in the area and have some prize lion photographs, why not go onto our database and see if you can identify your lion? If you would like to report your sighting, please go here. Alternatively, if you would like us to identify your lion for you, you can email us at maralions@gmail.com.

This blog will be updated regularly, allowing you to read all about your favourite lions. I will also post useful information to help you participate in our work and enjoy following our project.

Watch this space!