The Mara Predator Project is working to monitor lions in and around the conservancies north of the Masai Mara National Reserve. The project is based at Serian Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, and is run by Sara Blackburn under Living With Lions.
Lions are an irreplaceable feature of the Mara, and these conservancies support a significant percentage of
the 2,000 remaining in Kenya. The project monitors individual animals indirectly by using their whisker
spots – a series of dots on the muzzle that forms a pattern that is unique to each lion. By using this ‘fingerprint’ together with ear tears and other unique features, each animal can be recognized and tracked without using radio collars. Already we have identified over 150 individuals, noted fascinating behaviours, and gathered invaluable data on local prides and their movements.
A major focus of the project is to link tourism with lion conservation. By including lodges in lion monitoring,
it is possible to cover large areas of lion habitat, raise awareness of conservation issues, and build a
sustainable project. Guides within CONSERVATION Airkenya had the pleasure to fly Emma and Jane Blackburn into the Masai Mara in February. The two were flying into the Masai Mara with educational material for the children in one of the schools in the Mara.
participating lodges are trained to identify lions and report sightings, whilst guests are encouraged to
submit photographs of lions they have seen. Each animal is profiled on an online database (www.livingwithlions.org/mara), which can be searched through by key identifying features. Until recently, scientists believed that there were over 100,000 lions in Africa. We now know that as few as 20,000
Airkenya had the pleasure to fly Emma
and Jane Blackburn into the Masai Mara in
February. The two were flying into the Masai
Mara with educational material for the
children in one of the schools in the Mara.
survive. Lions across the continent continue to be killed in retaliation for attacks on livestock, and the Mara’s lions are no exception. Living With Lions works throughout rangelands of Kenya to decrease the cost of living with predators for local communities, through improving bomas (livestock enclosures) education, and engaging local people in predator research and conservation. Boma improvements have already begun in the area
thanks to the Anne Kent Taylor Fund, and The Mara Predator Project will soon be starting community education
across the conservancies. The ongoing monitoring work will help identify how the lion population is
reacting to these conservation efforts.
If you are flying into the Musiara, Mara Shikar, Ngerende or Olekiombo Airstrip, you can take part in this
exciting project by photographing any lions you see and reporting your sightings via our website, or
by enquiring at your lodge.
Details of the participating lodges can be found on the website. You can try to identify which lion you have seen by searching the database, and follow their day to day lives through our blog at marapredatorproject.blogspot.com.
It’s a great way to get involved with active research, and continue your safari from the comfort of your home!