Sopa, Hujambo, Hello!

At Lion Guardians, we firmly believe in the power that science has to advance conservation. One of our key aims is to be a center of knowledge that develops needed answers to critical questions which can inform actions on the ground. Currently, we have several ongoing research projects at various stages. As we share below in detail, we are looking deeply into the issue of lost livestock and changing husbandry practices with the view of incorporating new actions to minimize lost livestock, and therefore depredations and conflict. Additionally, we recently developed a new and exciting model to estimate lion densities based on nine years of spoor data collected by the Guardians at our core site in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. We tested the model outputs against observed lion densities and found that the two matched, suggesting that spoor data collected systematically by non-scientists can be used to predict lion densities. This finding has far-reaching implications, as it gives us the ability to estimate lion populations in areas where lions are not easily sighted or observed, by using data collected by citizen scientists. We have since used this model to predict the lion density in our collaborator KOPE Lion 's site in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, an area where spoor data was collected in the same manner, but the lion population density was unknown. We look forward to continuing to use this tool in community areas where lions occur at low densities, are particularly secretive, and/or live in inaccessible areas. In addition to working on these two important research areas, over the last six months we celebrated our decade anniversary and continued successful operations on the ground saving lions and helping communities.

Read on to learn about the key highlights that your support has made possible. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

It takes a community to conserve lions and preserve cultures, we are grateful that you are a part of ours. 
Ashe Oleng, Asante, Thank You!
From the Lion Guardians team

Support Us
Fund us directly by donating via the button below. You can:
  • Adopt a lion 
    • Cub: $250/year
    • Sub-adult: $500/year
    • Adult: $1000/year  

Alternatively, you can support us via one of our partners:
Choose Wildlife Guardians as your charity at AmazonSmile, and Lion Guardians will receive a percentage of everything you spend.
GoodDeedSeats offers tickets to a range of events, and donates a portion of the proceeds to Lion Guardians if you select the option at checkout. 
Shop at Chantecaille and purchase special edition makeup palettes that benefit Lion Guardians. 
Jewelry designer Temple St. Clair donates a portion of proceeds from her Lion Cub collection to Lion Guardians.
A Decade of Impact: Special Anniversary Report
To see the incredible progress your support has enabled over the last ten years, please take a look at our anniversary report - now available here!
News from the Field & Beyond
Decade Anniversary Celebration
Last year marked Lion Guardians' ten-year anniversary. In December, we hosted an internal celebration to commemorate what we have accomplished over the last decade, and what we dream of accomplishing in the next one. Old and new Guardians, team members, collaborators, and friends came together, and spontaneous dancing and laughter rang out late into the night. Promises were made to keep the spark that is Lion Guardians burning bright into the next decade and beyond. 
Lions, Livestock, and Coexistence
At the heart of the lion conservation conundrum is the issue of lost livestock. With our current conflict mitigation strategies, which include Guardians finding lost livestock and bringing them back to the livestock owner, we have been able to proactively minimize retaliation hunts. Last year, Guardians recovered close to 10,000 lost livestock. But the number of lost livestock is on the rise, increasing more than threefold over the last eight years. And as these losses increase, so do the chances of depredation and retaliation. It is clear that in order to maintain peaceful coexistence, there is an urgent need to understand the drivers behind livestock being lost while herding and address some of these root causes. As part of the "Traditional Knowledge" area of our research agenda, rangeland specialist and PhD student Kevin Jablonski  visited our core site in November to better understand the increasing amounts of lost livestock and thus the increased levels of depredations. Kevin gathered some initial information on traditional husbandry and herd decision-making practices to help us develop ways that we can minimize the amount of livestock lost each year. While the research is still at its very nascent stage, we are excited by what it is beginning to uncover. Stay tuned throughout this year as we work towards piloting some exciting initiatives in 2019.
The Floods and Conflict: 
People and Lions
From the extremes of drought, we are now finding ourselves in the throes of flooding here in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. As Philip J. Briggs  reported
it has led to us having difficulties getting into and out of our camp, to the extent of actually having to walk 7km out of camp carrying our equipment! We also have watched the nearby river overflow its banks repeatedly, even creating a smaller tributary across our road. These floods and the rains are very welcome to our usually dry ecosystem, so we feel blessed despite the hardships. Everywhere is now lush and green and we know the livestock and wild prey will have plenty to eat for many months to come. The lions, on the other hand, are beginning to struggle as the drought-hardened wild prey are strong, and therefore more difficult to kill. Unfortunately, this means the lions are turning more frequently to attacking livestock and the Guardians are having to work extremely hard to keep them out of trouble. There are livestock depredations by lions almost daily, but communities are focusing on the positives and counting their blessings to have so much grass and so many healthy hooved animals all around.
Photo credit: Chantecaille
The Warrior Games at the Halcyon Gallery
We are extremely grateful to the Elephant Family and Chantecaille   for putting together a special event in honor of Lion Guardians' decade anniversary year 2017. On October 11th and 12th, the Halcyon Gallery hosted an exhibition showcasing stunning portraits of some of our Guardians by eminent photographer Jack Brockway and 36 retired hunting spears decorated by Maasai women from the communities where we operate in southern Kenya. Luke Maamai, our program manager, flew out specially to attend the event and regaled the visitors to the exhibition with stories from the ground.

Photo credit: Salisha Chandra
Developing our Team - Developing 
Lion  Guardians
One aspect of our mission is developing our team members' skill sets and knowledge so that our organization can continue to innovate. In January, our office and data manager Merishi was granted a scholarship from Colorado State University to attend the Pathways Africa conference in Namibia, where he joined inspiring conservationists from around the globe to discuss conflict transformation, wildlife crime, and project leadership; you can read more about his experience here. The same month, Stephanie participated in an "out-of-the-box" workshop focused on coexistence and how to implement innovative ideas. And in February, Philip joined researcher Kevin Jablonski at a workshop hosted by Colorado State University's Center for Collaborative Conservation, where the two met up with North American, Asian, and African teams that link conservation and livelihoods using collaborative methods.
Saving Big Cats Worldwide - The NCF Knowledge Sharing
In the first week of May, we hosted a team of four from the Nature Conservation Foundation - India for a customized coaching and training program. This was our first-ever knowledge sharing with a team outside of Africa and for a species other than lions, and we are happy to report that it went exceedingly well. The days were filled with in-class workshops as well as field trips to observe the work of the Guardians and the monitoring team. We are also thankful to  Big Life who spent an evening with the group talking about their conservation model. All four participants learned a tremendous amount during their eight days with us, and are excited to go back to their home sites and start working on several actions coming out of the training. Sanjay Gubbi, Director of NCF-India, shared that "it was wonderful to meet the Lion Guardians team and see the immense impact that they have on the ground." We look forward to seeing the next steps NCF-India takes in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in southern India.
Feature Story: 
Winds of Change  

After nearly 10 years of reigning supreme as the primary Amboseli National Park pride male, it seems there are winds of change for the 14+ year old male, Loonkito. For the past year, it appeared that Loonkito had been governing alone, as his brother Amboga has not been seen. Solo ruler Loonkito seemed to be going strong, having more cubs with the latest generation of young adult lionesses and holding court with both of the prides that reside primarily in the Park. But we recently saw the oldest female in the ecosystem (15+ years old), the aptly named Asama,   mating with a newcomer, Lenkapune. This caused quite a stir, as the newcomer is from a pride that generally stays to the south-east of the Park, up the slopes of Kilimanjaro. He dispersed out and has not been seen since 2014. Now he's back and in the heart of the Park as a spritely 6-year-old who seems to be vying for the seat as King of Amboseli by winning the heart of the most experienced queen of all the lionesses, Asama.
Photo credit: Jack Brockway
Meet a Guardian
Name: Olubi Lairumbe
Lion Name: Mitiaki

Olubi is one of our veteran Guardians, having joined the program in 2007 shortly after it was officially initiated. He currently monitors the Kalesirua zone on Mbirikani Group Ranch, where he is known for being one of the most dependable warriors. Last year, he was awarded with a lifetime achievement award for his excellence as a Guardian and the example he sets for all his peers. Olubi is better known by his lion name "Mitiaki", meaning "One who does not flinch in the face of danger."

"Lion Guardians transformed my life and the landscape I live in. Today, there  are many more lions on community lands than when we first started. And even after  ten years of going out, I still enjoy my job every single day. I believe in always trying  and never giving up, because as we Maasai say, 'Menyanyuk inyuaat o nkidimat [One who gives up can never succeed].'"
All photographs credit Philip J. Briggs unless otherwise mentioned