African lion populations have fallen by over 40% across the continent in the past 20 years, and now number approximately 20,000. In Kenya, this number is just 2,000 individuals. The primary cause of the dwindling numbers has been associated with the human population growth, less space for lions, and retaliatory killing in response to attacks on people and livestock. If these trends continue, lions could become extinct here within the next 20 years.
This is why the community of Westgate Conservancy works closely with Ewaso Lions, an NGO dedicated to conserving lions and other large carnivores by promoting co-existence between people and wildlife. Westgate lies on the border of Samburu National Reserve, a vital refuge for lions and other big cats.
Engaging local people is at the heart of the Ewaso Lions ethos, and several local Samburu warriors have been employed under their ‘Warrior Watch’ scheme. These young men are trained to become wildlife ambassadors within their communities. As well as raising awareness about conservation and advocating for peaceful co-existence with lions and wildlife, they play a key role in mitigating human-carnivore conflict.
Naramat is a lioness frequently spotted in Westgate. In July, two warriors from Warrior Watch tracked her for 10km across the bush, informing all community members along the way to keep a close eye on their livestock to prevent any conflict. They do this regularly, and this kind of close attention has allowed Naramat to give birth to, and successfully raise, 3 litters in the Westgate area in the past 10 years.
“We are really excited to announce that Naramat gave birth to 4 cubs in Westgate” Ewaso Lions announced on 10th July. “This has not been easy - it has taken years of community engagement, meetings, wildlife safaris with community members, daily patrolling by our team of warriors and scouts, quick response to conflict incidents and round the clock lion monitoring. The community here have now embraced lion conservation, everyone knows Naramat and her cubs, and she feels safe in her home in Westgate.”