Pioneering Lion Conservation
A new way of doing conservation in Kenya
Shivani Bhalla and the Ewaso Lions team
Work with these folks and get a whole different view of Kenya
Tracking Lions in Samburu National Reserve
An Intimate Look at the Great Migration
About a year ago, we started talking to our safari partner in Kenya about visiting with Ewaso Lions, a project Shivani Bhalla started with Samburu warriors in central and northern Kenya. We felt the project embodied successful community conservation in East Africa.
We are finalizing the details of the trip in early September. Here's the general plan:
Travel to Samburu National Park, one of Kenya's less-crowded and larger national parks. We'll spend 4 days and 4 nights at Saasab, a gorgeous safari camp that accommodates only 18 guests in nine luxury tents with views of the Ewaso river and the true African wilderness. There is wireless internet and each tent has its own plunge pool and privacy. Electricity is solar powered, offering outlets for charging equipment in each tent.
After tracking lions and working with Ewaso Lions staff to spread the word about lion conservation in the Samburu community, we spend 3 nights at Amboseli National Park, learning about American conservationist Cynthia Moss's famed elephant project.
Our last stop is a private reserve outside Maasai Mara National Park, for an intimate view of the Great Migration during calving season. Here we will meet with the Mara Elephant Project, a state-of-the-art effort to protect elephants from poachers. These guys are young, smart, and very effective. We like them a lot!
A Truly Modern Safari: Giving Back
This trip combines nature and culture - seamlessly. Income from tourism pays for conservancy land to be set aside for wildlife, lodges and safari camps support education and health care in local communities. In addition, we donate 1 percent of revenues from this trip (not profits) split between the Mara Elephant Project and the Ewaso Lions Project.
When to Travel & Costs
Most people track the great herds in the summer, when the wildebeest are braving river crossings where they are surrounded by predators. It's a dramatic time of year - and winter in Africa, so temperatures are cool. Summer is high season, though, so there are scads of tourists, and travel is more expensive.
In February, the wildebeest calving season is happening. You can witness the migration without herds of tourists at the cycle's most endearing point, the weather is perfect, and the costs are lower.
Read more about the Great Migration trip nobody knows about....
Part 1: Samburu National Park: Working with Ewaso Lions
In the Northern Frontier District. Far from tourists.
Lions in Samburu.
Where We Stay: 4 days/4 nights @ Saasab
So luxurious, we're almost embarrassed
Saasab's Moroccan design buffers the African heat. Each of the nine Moroccan-styled rooms is more than 300 square feet with an enormous open-air bathroom and private plunge pool. From the veranda, guests can take in the remarkable views across the Laikipia Plateau toward the jagged peak of Mount Kenya. The camp's position on the river naturally facilitates watching herds of elephant that come to bathe.
More on Saasab
Parts 2 & 3: Amboseli Elephants & The Great Migration
Six Days. Lots of animals. Hardly any tourists.
If you've ever wanted to see the Great Migration, don't delay.
A proposed road threatens the Serengeti ecosystem.
Ewaso Lions Warrior Watch on National Geographic
These are the folks you'll be visiting.
Why Lions are Threatened: Habitat Disappearing.
But there is a solution....
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 behavior 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 safari will provide you with an authentic and close-up insight into lion research in some of Kenya’s most stunning areas. Spend 4 days with a lion research expert from the Ewaso Lions with 4 nights at Sasaab Camp and 3 nights at Porini Lion Camp in the famous Maasai Mara in an exclusive conservancy with several resident prides of lion.
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 (www.ewasolions.org).
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 Ewaso Lions
Ewaso Lions takes its name from the mighty Ewaso Nyiro River (also called the Ewaso Ng’iro) which starts on the slopes of Mt Kenya and snakes its way through Laikipia and Samburu. The Ewaso (pronounced “eh-wah-so”) serves as a lifeline for the people and wildlife.
Ewaso Lions firmly believes that the success of lion conservation hinges on the involvement of the local people who live alongside lions, along with cutting-edge science. Ewaso Lions promotes human-carnivore coexistence, provides education, and builds local capacity for wildlife rangers and community leaders. Our science has a practical orientation. Ewaso Lions focuses on understanding the factors driving lion pride establishments, their associations and movements in the wild, the extent of human-lion conflict, and the impact of habitat loss, all geared to formulating strategies for long-term lion conservation.
The research is centred in northern Kenya’s Samburu, Laikipia, and Isiolo Counties, which comprise one contiguous ecosystem. This region is home to the third largest populations of lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs in Kenya. The research covers four major land use types: community conservancies, group ranches (public lands), protected areas, and private ranches. The study area covers almost 5,000 square kilometers of lion habitat, which includes National Reserves (Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba), Community Conservancies (Westgate, Mpus Kutuk, Kalama, Nasuulu, and Nakupurat Gotu), and Laikipia’s private ranches.
Ewaso Lions is an independent nonprofit organisation, and relies on the generous support of organisations and individuals.
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