Is there enough wildlife left for the lions to eat?

Recent reports indicate that the wildlife around Amboseli in Southern Kenya declined by 60 – 70% due to the recent drought. Lion attacks on livestock in Maasai homesteads escalated and the people retaliated.


At least 20 lions of a population of 45 lions have been killed. That’s what we know. The most recent census of lions came up with only 10 lions. The governments of East Africa are very shy of bad news, and rightly so, it damages Kenya’s name and potentially drives tourists away. Tourism is one of  the most lucrative industries in the region. But these same governmments should not be shy of the truth – they should WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING.

If you go to Amboseli and the nearby game ranches, you will see the active presence of conservationists like the Lion Guardians and Living with Lions, the At present, conservation organizations in the Amboseli. I was recently interviewed on this issue and my position is well captured in this article by By MICHAEL BURNHAM AND NATHANIAL GRONEWOLD on GreenWire

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  1. Posted May 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    More bad news…..

    Paula Kahumbu today alerted us to more bad news for Kenya’s lions – 20 more lions have been killed in the Amboseli area, leaving perhaps 25 or less remaining in the National Park.

    Paula knows Amboseli well – I first met her there when she was a research assistant to an elephant program run by Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole. The park was known worldwide in those days for spectacular wildlife and scenery – Mt Kilimanjaro forms a magnificent backdrop to the open plains.

    The Park is small, less than 400 square kilometres. When I was there is the late 1980’s the swamps and seasonal lakes in the area were extensive, fed by rainfall and springs from Mt Kilimanjaro. However, things have changed dramatically in the past twenty years. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have retreated to tiny remnants, and the once magnificent snow-capped peak near the equator (that supposedly caused the Kenya-Tanzania border to be redrawn so the German Kaiser could have “his” mountain as his cousin Queen Victoria already had Mt. Kenya) is now lucky to receive an occasional dusting of snow on the peak. Global warming has been blamed, but also the tremendous deforestation of the slopes.

    So now the springs hardly flow, and Amboseli (supposedly meaning “a place of water” in Maa – the language of the Maasai tribe living all around) is getting drier and drier. Rains entirely failed in 2008 and 2009, and the wildlife greatly suffered. Wildebeest declined from 18,500 in 2007 to 3,100 in 2010, and zebras declined from 15,300 to 4,400 in the same period. The Kenya Wildlife Service was meant to source populations of those species from other areas in Kenya and reintroduce them to the Park after the drought, but Paula was critical of the results – while some animals were eventually transported, the operation was a failure.

    Drought, cattle, and poison

    Back to the lions. During the drought, it was thought so few wild prey were available in the Park that the lions took to eating Maasai livestock, hence the killings. Some were direct – using spears – and some were indirect, using poison.

    This poison is an insecticide called Furadan (carbofuran). It is cheap, highly effective (lions don’t taste the poison in the meat, and there even secondary effects – scavengers that eat the poisoned lion also die), and manufactured in the USA until recently. There, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the product as being dangerous to users, consumers (not people who were suicidal, but those who ate fruit sprayed with the product!), and wildlife. The manufacturing company continued to sell to the third world, and Paula now has managed to get it banned from Kenya.

    We should all salute Paula Kahumbu and Wildlife Direct. She will tackle any government agency in Kenya to get things done, is completely honest and forthright in reporting, and we always get the news from her first. A lion research project in the Amboseli area has been silent on the issue

  2. sauwah
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    maybe the best thing to do for the few surviving lions is to relocate them to some where else. don’t know where especially when most wild areas are taken over by people and their livestock. how will these ten do and what is their dim future? is there a corridor to this area from other so that these lions will have a richer gene pool?

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