From 2008 – 2013 I project managed the Mara Predator Project (MPP) for Living With Lions in the conservancies north of the Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR), Kenya.
The overall objective of the project was to assess the lion population living in pastoral regions outside of the formally protected MMNR in terms of its viability and status as a regionally and globally lion population. Whilst the conservancies are managed for wildlife and tourism, they also support pastoralists and their livestock and are subject to increasing pressures by growing human populations.
Through my work with the MPP I developed a citizen science based project to increase and coordinate widespread data collection and monitoring of lion populations, including the creation of an online database enabling tourists to identify lions and report their sightings to us. This allowed us to study over 500 individual lions across 1,200km2 over several generations. Importantly, we found healthy populations of lions within the conservancies in contrast to previous work that showed increasing cause for concern.
Whilst the MPP has now finished, analysis of data is ongoing. My latest work details the survival of lions in relation to anthropogenic and environmental variables acting across the conservancies. This important work using mark-recapture techniques has revealed that the conservancies play a vital role in increasing lion survival above stable thresholds through benefit sharing to conservancy members.