Lions are Approaching! Early Lessons From Our Early- Warning System for Protecting Livestock and Lions

Eretsha (left) and his coalition mate

Post submitted by Andrew Stein.

It starts with an incoming text… “PrideInOurPrides- Lion 1 Inside Geofence 1. Follow the link for coordinates and mapped location.”

It’s 10pm after a long day in the field and one of our collared lions has entered the marshy wetland between the safety of their tourist concession home and the hostile villages to the north. Our study animals have been fitted with satellite tracking collars that inform our field staff via text when lions cross the prescribed line of mapping coordinates or ‘geofence’. This feature is handy for determining how often lions approach the village, but also allows us to establish trust with villagers by issuing an early warning when the collared lions are approaching high conflict zones.

After viewing the exact location of the lions, we begin the phone tree by sending texts to the village leaders who then inform their relatives and friends until the entire village is aware that predators are approaching. Tonight it’s “Eretsha,” a prime male named for the nearby village. He is often seen with another male and two adult females. After several months, these messages are becoming routine and villagers react in various ways. Some rise from their huts to ensure that their livestock are secure then light small fires to keep the lions away. Others roll over annoyed at the disturbance, unable to gather their stock after dark when they may encounter our lions, crocodiles, hippos and elephants. To be fair, when lions enter this marshy area, they don’t always enter the village – that is why we have also programmed Geofence2 to delineate the village boundary. Our collared lions rarely seem to cross Geofence2 but that does not mean that they are out of harm’s way.

Eretsha (left) and his coalition mate

Villagers are getting to know these lions —> Read More