Research Papers

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Efficacy of Two Lion Conservation Programs in Maasailand, Kenya

Lion(Panthera leo)populations are in decline throughout most of Africa. The problem is particularly acute in southern Kenya, where Maasai pastoralists have been spearing and poisoning lions at a rate that will ensure near term local extinction. We investigated 2 approaches for improving local tolerance of lions: compensation payments for livestock lost to predators and Lion Guardians, which draws on local cultural values and knowledge to mitigate livestock-carnivore conflict and monitor carnivores. To gauge the overall influence of conservation intervention, we combined both programs into a single conservation treatment variable. Using 8 years of lion killing data, we applied Manski’s partial identification approach with bounded assumptions to investigate the effect of conservation treatment on lion killing in 4 contiguous areas. In 3 of the areas, conservation treatment was positively associated with a reduction in lion killing. We then applied a generalized linear model to assess the relative efficacy of the 2 interventions. The model estimated that compensation resulted in an 87–91% drop in the number of lions killed, whereas Lion Guardians (operating in combination with compensation and alone) resulted in a 99% drop in lion killing.

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The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered

The African lion has declined to 500 km2) PAs and compiled evidence of lion presence/absence for a further eight PAs. All PAs were situated within Lion Conservation Units, geographical units designated as priority lion areas by wildlife experts at a regional lion conservation workshop in 2005. Lions were confirmed in only 4 PAs, and our results suggest that only 406 (273–605) lions remain in West Africa, representing

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A Social Network Analysis of Social Cohesion in a Constructed Pride: Implications for Ex Situ Reintroduction of the African Lion (Panthera leo)

Animal conservation practices include the grouping of captive related and unrelated individuals to form a social structure which is characteristic of that species in the wild. In response to the rapid decline of wild African lion (Panthera leo) populations, an array of conservational strategies have been adopted. Ex situ reintroduction of the African lion requires the construction of socially cohesive pride structures prior to wild release. This pilot study adopted a social network theory approach to quantitatively assess a captive pride’s social structure and the relationships between individuals within them. Group composition (who is present in a group) and social interaction data (social licking, greeting, play) was observed and recorded to assess social cohesion within a released semi-wild pride. UCINET and SOCPROG software was utilised to represent and analyse these social networks. Results indicate that the pride is socially cohesive, does not exhibit random associations, and the role of socially influential keystone individuals is important for maintaining social bondedness within a lion pride. These results are potentially informative for the structure of lion prides, in captivity and in the wild, and could have implications for captive and wild-founder reintroductions.

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