Thank you for donating to our Protecting Lions project. Our ground-based conservation partners the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) have sent us an incredible update which we’d like to share with you. They reported to us that after a tough mission, working with the national wildlife authority, through southern Murchison Falls across six nights, they have successfully managed to collar two new lions.
On the 15 February, the experienced team arrived in southern Murchison Falls – conditions meant they were able to access an area called the ‘honeymoon track’ – where lions were known to be regularly.
The experienced team included Michael Keigwin (UCF), Dr Erik Erycel (veterinarian) and Dr Patrick Okello (veterinarian). The programme was also supported by two UCF cars to get them around the area and transport the equipment.
After four days and nights of not getting close enough to the lions the team had to resupply, refuel and get sleep. The lions were being heard but they are not used to people or cars – and were very wary and shy. ‘lion calling’ during the collaring mission resulted in dozens of hyena arriving, showing a least that the hyena populations are very healthy!
The following morning, the team drove many miles off-road to the closest areas where lions were being heard – only one of the vehicles was able to move through the terrain, which was rocky, rough and involved crossing more than one river.
Finally, on the sixth night, two lions were successfully darted and collared, one female and one adolescent male.
Both were from the same pride, and both had female collars put on. The adolescent male was a little too small for the full male collar and ran the risk of the collar slipping around the neck, hampering the GPS signal.
The adolescent male was included in the collaring exercise to better understand their use of the region and behavioural patterns. The team also suspects that in the next six months he will be pushed out of the pride by the two large males and will have to explore southern Murchison Falls to establish his own pride home range. His movement patters will be interesting to monitor to see the extent of the movement across the region.
Understanding how prides use the regions they live in, how the interact with communities close to the park boundaries and their behaviour patterns is vital information which conservationists and national parks can use to prevent poaching and protect their populations. Find out more about DSWF’s funded work with UCF and lions.