In December 2019 we sent off a donation of £2587.83 ($3278) to sponsor a GPS collar and the associated transmission fees to receive the data. In June 2020 we were delighted to hear from the Kope Lion team that the collar had been fitted onto a five year old male named Laipangwa.
Laipangwa was born in March 2015 to Nayomi, a lioness part of the Twin Hill pride in the Ndutu region within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. He dispersed from his birth pride in early 2018 joining his uncle Katavi as a nomad. By October 2018 Katavi had disappeared and Laipangwa remained on his own and continued wandering. It was at this time that the Kope Lion team successfully collared him for the first time, giving them a real insight into his movements. He moved through each zone monitored by the Kope Lion team, many of these areas had not seen or heard a lion in a very long time. In June 2019 he reached the Crater itself but after a few short visits he appeared to settle more in the densely vegetated slopes.
It was at this time that he settled in the multi use area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, north west of the main crater and was seen with a group of lionesses from the main crater. These lionesses became known as the 'Lakes Lopers'. Due to the lions living in such close proximity to people the collar became even more important, as well as getting accurate movements showing his range it also allowed the Kope Lion team to prepare for potential conflicts and the actions required to mitigate. It is used as an early warning system for the herders within the area allowing them to prepare to move their herds when the lions are nearby or moving to a particular area.
Laipangwa's collar was replaced in June 2020 after the batteries started to fail, sponsored by the Safina Lion Conservation Fund. From this point we received regular updates and maps on Laipangwa and his movements, which we are able to share with our supporters. These maps show Laipangwa's movements in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on the North western slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater which can be easily noticed from these maps. We are so grateful to the Kope Lion Team who have regularly sent us these maps on a regular basis allowing us to see where Laipangwa has been and the distance that he has travelled on a monthly basis. Use the sliding tool to see each of the maps from June 2020 to January 2021. The high density of his movements around this one specific area shows that this is a territory which he has now considered himself particularly attached to. The reason behind this would be that he has sired cubs with a group of females which belong to this area.
Laipangwa & His Pride
Due to living in an area which has a high density of people and livestock the lions have become a lot more elusive than other lions in the wildlife only areas. This reluctance to come near people has been helpful for their success within the area. Although initially there were some incidents involving livestock the lions have been thriving with the help of the the lion custodians (Ilchokuti in the local Maa language) within the area employed by Kope Lion have been able to work with the local communities to help mitigate these conflicts and to keep people and livestock away from where the lions are.
Initially believed to have been in the company of four females, Laipangwa has now been seen with a total of five females with a total of nine cubs of various different ages in March 2021. He can normally be seen frequenting with two or three at most times. We are extremely grateful to Roimen Lelya, Lion Monitoring & Conflict Officer for the pictures of Laipangwa and Rumas, pictured below, is one of the Ilchokuti based in the area that Laipangwa was living in. Rumas and the other ilchhokuti look out for Laipangwa, the lionesses and other lion prides in the area to keep them out of trouble ensuring that everyone, lions, livestock and communities remain safe is a priority for Rumas.
Laipangwa and the lionesses he is with have become something of a success story for the Kope Lion team. Laipangwa being an Ndutu (an area closer to the main Serengeti National Park) born lion has successfully sired cubs with a group of lionesses that have split from a pride in the main crater. This means that the corridor of tolerance that Kope Lion have been working to restore inbetween the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater is now starting to work and the genetic flow has now been opened up once more. It also a success because lions have now been resident in a range that has not been utilised by lions for years and people and livestock are now coexisting together once more.
Laipangwa Going Into 2022
We have continued to receive regular updates and pictures from the Kope Lion team. Our favourites so far are the pictures above taken in February by Roimen, giving a great view of Laipangwa and his collar. The photo below (right) is a reminder that life in the wild is tough. Fortunately the rains have now arrived, bringing a high density of prey species to the plains. As you can see the picture below taken a few weeks later show him with a fuller belly so he has started to eat well again. Life in the wild is tough and for Laipangwa this is no exception, at 7 years old he is in his prime and has sired several cubs. Thank you to Emmanuel and Roimen for the brilliant photos, Ingela for the maps and Sally for her great regular communication.
Death of Laipangwa
In August 2022 we received the news that Laipangwa had been found dead. Details of his death are uncertain but other males had been seen in his area in recent weeks. Laipangwa does leave a legacy, having been born in the Ndutu area he moved to an area closer to the famous Ngorongoro Crater where he mated with lionesses that were born in the crater, opening up the genetic flow in and out of the crater once again, living in an area that had not seen a lion presence for several years. His legacy lives on through his cubs and the increased tolerance from the community. Laipangwa had successfully sired cubs in an area away from his birth pride, fulfilling the main objective of our Future Kings Project. We will remember Laipangwa fondly as our first collared lion and a lion who ventured where lions had not been seen or heard for many years, hopefully establishing a pathway that can be repeated.