MARA PREDATOR CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Fulfilling our aims and objectives to support lion conservation we were delighted to donate towards a second conservation partner in August 2019 and we sent off a donation of £2938.46 ($3500) to aid lion conservation efforts and to sponsor a GPS collar as part of our Future Kings Project. We were able to complete this donation with the financial help of our zoo partners and zoo supporters in particular Folly Farm Adventure Park & Zoo and one of their keepers Rosie Badger. Please click here for their website.
Who are the Mara Predator Conservation Programme?
Founded in the beginning of 2018 the new programme was created by the Kenya Wildlife Trust and saw their two flagship projects the Mara Lion and Mara Cheetah Projects together. The idea was to create an ongoing permanent programme to monitor not just lions and cheetah but potentially many other predator species in need of conservation. The Kenya Wildlife Trust was founded in 2007 with the aim to provide funding for a variety of conservation and community development projects in key wildlife areas. The Mara Lion and Cheetah Projects were founded in 2013 and the trust has continued to work to fund other conservation work throughout Kenya.
What do they do and where?
The Mara Predator Conservation Programme is based at the Tony Lapham Predator Hub situated inside the Olare Motogori Conservancy along the border with the Naboisho Conservancy. Not only surrounded by the wildlife, these conservancy and community lands are home to a large human population which puts the project directly in the center of the conflict between humans and wildlife - a perfect location for the programme headquarters.
The programme works to monitor and collect data within their study area on lion movements, behaviour and to identify and track populations, they also work to engage with the local community and to mitigate conflict between the communities and the wildlife, in particular the lions. The study area covers an area over 3000 square kilometers and the entire Greater Mara Ecosystem, they currently work in the following areas:
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara North Conservancy
Mara Naboisho Conservancy
Olare Motogori Conservancy
Ol Kinyei Conservancy
Ol Derikesi Conservancy
Olarro North & South Conservancies
1. To help community members and community landowners understand and appreciate the role of predators in the ecosystem.
2. To ensure that key stakeholders in the Greater Mara Ecosystem consistently utilise sound scientific information to inform conservation strategies.
3. To support stable, healthy predator populations in the Greater Mara Ecosystem by providing scientific evidence for conservation action.
How do we help them?
We have been in discussions with Niels Mogensen, Senior Programme Scientist of the Mara Predator Conservation Programme since late 2017 about how we could support the project. One of our trustees visited the Naboisho Conservancy in September 2017 and learnt of the work that the then Mara Lion Project was doing. The MPCP 'Collars for Conservation' project works to collar lions to help track movements, they focus on young sub adult male lions which is the same as one of our key focus areas in our conservation strategy - it seemed like a good opportunity to assist them in their efforts. The following information about the collaring project has been taken from their website:
"Dispersing sub-adult males (those who have left their ‘home’ pride but have not yet found or established a pride of their own) are frequently nomadic for years, wandering over vast distances and often coming into contact with humans and livestock. They are the main demographic of lion associated with human-lion conflict, so we use lion collars to help alert us to potential problems and reduce the impact of any conflict. Sub-adult males are also largely responsible for connecting sub-populations of lions and maintaining genetic diversity within a population. In an ever-evolving ecosystem like the Greater Mara, lion collars will help to identify priority landscapes for protection. Considering that two of the major threats facing lions are human-lion conflict and habitat fragmentation, we focus on dispersing male lions when it comes to collaring, as they provide the most relevant and useful information for conservation planning. Without collars, we would never understand exactly what is happening to this vital demographic of lions in the Mara."
Our donation of £2938 ($3500) will cover the purchasing of one of these collars to be used on a young dispersing male and will also cover the veterinary fees which will be needed to fit the collar on the lion in question. In February 2020 one of our trustees visited the headquarters of the MPCP and met Niels Mogensen and his research team to see how they monitor the lions within the study area and the troubles that they face and to see some potential candidates for the collar we have sponsored. To read more about this trip please click here. We are proud to work with the MPCP and look forward to continuing our support and we will share updates regarding our sponsored collar once we hear more. In January 2021 we sponsored the monthly fuel budget consisting of $475 (£358) of a lion monitoring vehicle to aid them through the fall out of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the lack of usual sponsors to assist them with operational fees. We repeated this donation in January 2022.
Ole Cook, the wearer of our sponsored collar
In March 2022 our collar was finally deployed onto a four year old male named Ole Cook. Living as part a coalition trying to increase its territory, recently they ventured further and disappeared and when they returned one brother was missing. With no trace of the brother he is believed to be dead but it is unknown whether he was killed by other lions or people. This collar therefore is vital to track the movements of the two remaining males if they venture to the same area again and face similar threats. You can also see this brilliant video made by Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps of the Mara Predator Conservation Programme team fitting the collar onto Ole Cook right.
For more information please visit the Mara Predator Conservation Programme website here. We are proud to support this organisation and in total we have now donated £3654.33 towards their lion conservation and monitoring efforts. We would like to thank Senior Programme Scientist Niels Mogensen for his friendly communication over the last few years and for hosting us and colleagues to visit the programme in 2020 to launch our Future Kings Project. We look forward to working with the MPCP for many years in the future and to visit them again in the near future.