AFRICAT | HOBATERE LION RESEARCH PROJECT
AfriCat launched its’ in-depth ‘AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project’ aimed at studying the lion in the north west of Namibia in 2013.
Focusing on population dynamics and movements of the lion Panthera leo population within the Hobatere Concession Area, the western side of Etosha National Park, and adjacent freehold and communal farmland, this study aims to last for a minimum of 10 years.
The aim is to establish and sustain accurate data on the density demography, population dynamics and behavior ecology of lion in these areas. This is done using GPS-Satellite collars worn by a number of lion within the designated research area.
These collars provide regular positioning reports of the individuals – and their associated groups – and so provides much needed information re movement of lion across territory borders, into and out of Protected lands (such as Hobatere and the Etosha National Park) and through communal and commercial farmland.
With the data collected, AfriCat are able to monitor the lion behavior and track their movements. Not only does this provide data for the overall research project, but it also enables AfriCat to provide practical help to farmers in the region, alerting them to the presence of lion in their own area.
Together with advice as to how to better protect their livestock by Kraaling the animals, and patrolling, this information is invaluable for mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict in the region. This ability to warn farmers in so called ‘hot-spots’ is part of the ‘Early-Warning System’ (EWS) that AfriCat have established, alongside the Livestock Protection Programme, to assist in the fight for wildlife conservation.
This particular project also strikes at the heart of AfriCat’s aim to protect the livelihood of the farming community, which in turn reaps benefits in protecting the Namibian Lion.
Lion population distribution historic & present
AFRICAT HOBATERE LION RESEARCH PROJECT
In Africa, lions are mainly restricted to larger parks, reserves, and the remaining wilderness areas in savannahs, covering no more than 20–25 % of their historic range (IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group 2006b; Riggio et al. 2012). Range collapse has been accompanied by plummeting lion numbers. Reliable population estimates for elusive, often nocturnal predators are notoriously difficult, but a variety of estimates converge at roughly 32,000 (Riggio et al. 2012). Rates of decline are alarming, as the number of African lions has fallen 30 % over the past two decades (three lion generations) and perhaps by 48.5 % since 1980 (IUCN 2012). Conflicts with people are overwhelmingly responsible for the range and population collapse of lions.