African lions are rapidly disappearing from their natural landscape. Less than 20,000 are left in the wild today. Innovative conservation planning based on regular population monitoring and threat assessment is the solution to helping this beloved species recover.
As human populations increase, preserving space for wildlife becomes more difficult, especially for species with big appetites and large home ranges like lions. Identifying if and where Etosha's lions face conservation threats like habitat loss from human encroachment, climate change & desertification, or human-lion conflict is important for setting conservation priorities to solve them.
Etosha Lion Project works with local partners like Etosha Ecological Institute to use data-driven research to develop targeted conservation strategies unique to Etosha's lions and landscape.
Monitoring programs supply important baseline information about a population's status for conservation planning. These programs collect data on population characteristics like age, gender, and birth-death rates which help predict if a population can survive on its own.
Our team helps the Etosha Large Carnivore Monitoring Program to conduct periodic surveys estimating lion population size, density and demographics. Analyzing changes between surveys helps park managers determine risks to Etosha's population and develop targeted strategies to address them.
Competitors & Prey
Large carnivores like lions are often used as “Umbrella Species” in conservation planning and management design, meaning that protecting lions will also protect many habitats and species that co-occur in their ecosystems. The reverse is also true, and overall ecosystem health is a good indicator for the lion population's status.
The Etosha Large Carnivore Monitoring Program also tracks competitor carnivore species like Spotted hyaena using GPS collars and monitor their social interactions with lions using camera traps. We also monitor environmental stressors in lion habitats like changes in rainfall, temperature, vegetation and desertification.
Health & Genetics
Last but not least, we're working to monitor difficult-to-solve conservation problems like endemic disease strikes or a loss of genetic diversity. ELP supports projects to monitor these risks through population genetics research, health monitoring, and disease prevalence testing.