It's been too long since our last newsletter but we are pleased to finally have a chance to inform you of all the important developments surrounding the Lion Guardians program - which have been possible thanks to your support!


First and foremost we are very pleased to report that the cub boom continues in our core program area in the Amboseli ecosystem. Lion Guardians have observed 37 new cubs born this past year and we are hoping for many more, as we believe several females are expecting or have given birth this month!


This increase is in stark contrast to other regions of Maasailand where there are no Lion Guardians present. Consequently, due to the extensive and increasing conflict between lions and livestock in these areas and our success with working collaboratively with local communities, we continue to receive requests to expand our program to additional regions of the greater Kenyan-Tanzanian Maasailand. Most recently, we expanded the Lion Guardians approach to the communal lands surrounding Tanzania's Tarangire National Park in partnership with Dr. Bernard Kissui's Tarangire Lion Project. We have also reignited our efforts to initiate a Lion Guardians project in Northern Tanzania in collaboration with Ingela Jansson from the Ngorongoro Lion Project.


Lions in the Ruaha region of southern Tanzania continue to benefit under the watchful eyes of our eight Lion Guardians working in this area. Since the program's inception in August 2012, no lions have been killed by Barabaig warriors in our study area. The program is also expanding; we have increased the LG coverage area and will hire four additional Lion Guardians before the year-end. The Lion Guardians also report that lions are now regularly visiting their zones. Together with personnel from our partners there, the  Ruaha Carnivore Project, the Ruaha Lion Guardians have captured photos of a handsome male lion and lioness and rumors have it that there may be cubs!


For the past year, we have been hard at work realizing two important milestones: the construction of our new centrally located Training Center as well as the completion of an educational film about the Lion Guardians program. Please read further to learn more about these and other developments. We hope you will share this newsletter with friends and family so we can continue to expand our circle of supporters.





 Dr. Leela Hazzah & Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry

Executive Director and Director of Science


Lion Guardian Olubi uses radio telemetry to track Nemasi, a lioness we have been monitoring since 2007. Although Nemasi has historically been a well-behaved lioness, she has recently become a more active livestock-raider. She now has four hungry cubs to feed that she gave birth to in April. The Lion Guardians are keeping a vigilant eye on her so they can warn herders of her presence and keep conflict to a minimum.

4th Annual Lion Guardian Games - The Biggest and Best Yet
Running race
Maasai and Barabaig Lion Guardians sprinting for the finish line 
during the 100 meter sprint competition.
This year's Lion Guardians' Games were the biggest and most diverse games to date, with close to 50 Lion Guardians from two different tribes and two different Maasai sections participating! In early June, the Lion Guardians from across the greater Amboseli ecosystem and from as far away as south-central Ruaha, Tanzania, traveled to the new Lion Guardians Training Center to participate in the 4th annual Lion Guardians games held in the Selenkay Conservancy. As the majority of Barabaig Lion Guardians from Ruaha were not acquainted with their Maasai colleagues, the Games were structured to ensure that these young men embraced each other and their respective cultures. 


The Games began with a whistling (a herding practice found in both cultures) competition.  The Barabaig Guardians won the sprinting and whistling competitions while the Amboseli Maasai Guardians won the spear and stick throwing competitions. The Games also provide a rare and invaluable opportunity for all of the Guardians to meet, bond and discuss their collective efforts at enhancing lion conservation. In fact, in the two weeks following their return from the Games the Barabaig Guardians stopped three lion hunts!

We are extremely appreciative to Eco-Sys Action for both sponsoring the Games and donating specially designed Lion Guardians soccer balls. We would also like to thank the Gamewatchers Porini Camp for hosting the Games in the Selenkay Conservacy. 
Lion Guardians Training Center at Nairrabala, Olgulului Group Ranch, Amboseli Eco-system
Thanks largely to funding awarded through the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, we were able to realize our goal of establishing a centrally-located, permanent camp and training center in the Amboseli ecosystem. 
Construction began in January and was completed by early June. The Olgulului community generously donated 10 acres of land on which to build the Training Center. In just a few short months, the Center has been used for community meetings, to train new Lion Guardians, and to host visitors, including those from neighboring communities and regions who are interested in starting a Lion Guardians program in their area. Visitors to the Center are able to see firsthand how the program operates and the immense support the program has from the local community.


On November 2nd 2013, a sherehe (celebratory gathering) was held to officially inaugurate the Training Center. Community members, Lion Guardians team members and various stakeholders attended the event. 

Read more about the day on our blog and watch the video.

Educational Film on Lion Guardians Released
Community members watch the Lion Guardian film. One viewer recorded the whole film on his phone!

Our new film, entitled "Lion Guardians - Coexistence between People and Lions" was completed in May. There are two versions - one in Swahili and one in the native Maasai language. This film was primarily developed as a means to demonstrate to local Maasai communities the benefits of the Lion Guardians program and the need to conserve lions, but through its posting on YouTube we are also able to share this message worldwide. It has already been shown to more than 25 times in the Amboseli, Tarangire and Ruaha ecosystems to over a thousand Maasai and Barabaig community members. 


The Lion Guardians team presented the film to international audiences at the St Andrew's Prize event at the Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews, Scotland and at the Society for Conservation Biology's 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Baltimore, Maryland to name a few. It has also been viewed more than a 1,000 times on Youtube! Please watch and help us share the film with others by using this link on our website


Special thanks to the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment and ConocoPhillips for supporting the development of the film and DVD production. 
First Annual World Lion Day a Roaring Success!

Organized to bring greater attention to the plight of lions, August 10th is now recognized as World Lion Day.  Lion Guardians marked the occasion by celebrating with more than 130 students and faculty of the Naor-Enkare Primary School. The students viewed the film after which we engaged the audience with a questions and answers session about the Lion Guardians and lion conservation. 


Finally the Lion Guardian team presented the school's boys and girls soccer teams with our special lion-themed soccer balls. We could think of no better way of celebrating World Lion Day than sharing our vision of a stable future for lions across their range with the very children who will be the stewards of Kenya's lions and its other abundant wildlife.

Jeremiah, The Lion Guardians supported community teacher (thanks to the generous support of Bruce Ludwig) presents a special lion-themed soccer ball to a group of students

Many of our supporters celebrated World Lion Day in a number of creative ways. The Animal ARC group at the University of Western Sydney in New South Wales, Australia held a lion-themed Trivia Night and raised a $100. Several of you also helped spread the word to friends and family through social media resulting in huge spike in our Facebook "likes" within hours. 


Lion Lights installed in Nine Bomas

In response to an increase in the number of livestock being killed by lions and potential retaliation by the community, Lion Guardians in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Trust and Michael Mbithi's LEDS (Lion Entry Deterrent Systems) group proposed a trial of "Lion Lights". 


These lights have been used in several bomas across Kenya to deter lions from entering the enclosures at night. Lion Guardians has now trialed this system by installing the lights at nine bomas that were experiencing the most damage from lions. We are monitoring these bomas and will report back shortly on the effectiveness of "Lion Lights" in stopping incursions and depredations in our trial set.

Introducing Lion Guardian: Mandela Kaeri Dudmeak

Mandela Kaeri Dudmeak is the youngest Barabaig Lion Guardian. Before becoming a Lion Guardian, Mandela participated in 18 lion hunts and speared one lion. Mandela is grateful for his employment as a Lion Guardian for it provides the means to buy livestock to help support his family, which is especially important since both his parents have passed away.
Mandela at the 2013 Lion Guardian Games

His favorite part of being a Lion Guardian is looking for lion tracks and finding fresh ones. Mandela is very skilled at noticing details and will be the first to show you where a lion made a small movement. He often explains in a story-like fashion how the lions spend their time while pointing out the various lion tracks and signs left behind.

Mandela and his partner, Daremu, won the esteemed title of "Most Reliable" at the Lion Guardian Games this past June. They received this award for their consistent and accurate reporting of lion tracks, depredations, and other community issues.

Mandela, in particular, has also demonstrated a strong commitment to his work, always arriving on time to meetings, and showing his enthusiasm for lions and conservation. He is almost always the first to volunteer for activities and is particularly helpful to project staff, his fellow Lion Guardians, and his community.
All photographs copyright Philip J. Briggs (unless otherwise noted)

Thank you for your interest and ongoing support of Lion Guardians.

 Your financial assistance is critical in helping protect East Africa's last remaining lions and in gaining continued local community support for lion conservation. 



We look forward to updating you again soon!

In This Issue
Featured Photo
Latest News
Research Focus
Team Update

Latest News
4th Lion Guardian Games
New Field Headquarters
Educational Film Released
First Annual World Lion Day
Lion Lights Installation
  Research Focus
How Are Lions Identified in the Field?
Upon first glance, lions may all look very similar to the untrained eye. However, every lion is unique and can be identified by their "whisker spots". If you look closely at both sides of the lion's face, and in particular at its whiskers you will notice a pattern that is distinctive to each lion. In order to identify the lion, you must look at the spots that lie above the first full row of whiskers. Examining where these spots (commonly referred to as Row A) lie in relation to the top row of whiskers (Row B) you can uncover the pattern that is unique to that particular lion. A lion's whisker spot pattern remains the same from birth and is therefore a very reliable way of identifying individuals.  
Lioness Nenkii's right side whisker pattern includes four unique spots in Row A. 
Other characteristics, such as flecks of coloration in the eye, a missing tail tip, ear notches, black spots on noses, prominent scars and broken teeth can also be used for identification as well. However some of these can change over time or may be hard to see in certain light.
  Donor Spotlight
This past May, eleven year old Magda Smith of Ithaca, New York donated $50 that she raised by selling home-made crocheted cat hats through her company "Magdats, Hats for Cats." We commend Magda for her creativity and interest in saving wild cats!


Support Us
East Africa's lions and the communities that live with them need our support. 
Please consider bolstering our efforts in the field today with a donation. 
There are several ways to support the Lion Guardians program:
  • Sponsor a Lion Guardian ($120/month for a Lion Guardian or $150/month for a Regional Coordinator)
  • Adopt a lion (Cub - $250/year, Sub-adult - $500/year, Adult - $1000/year)
  • Help us buy needed equipment by visiting our Wishlist on Amazon
  • Make a one-off donation 
Donating just got easier thanks to our new PayPal account. Supporters can also make a donation through our U.S. fiscal sponsor, Wildlife Guardians.

Special Mention
We were pleased to be featured in the August 2013 issue of National Geographic.
Writer David Quammen and photographer Brent Stirton visited Lion Guardians Training Center and spent time in the bush with Lion Guardians to learn about the program.

Lion Guardians
Team Update
Stephanie Completes her Doctoral Degree!
Congratulations to Lion Guardians' co-director Stephanie Dolrenry for completing her Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in January 2013. Her dissertation entitled "African Lion (Panthera Leo) behaviour, monitoring and survival in human-dominated landscapes was commended by her committee for its numerous novel findings. 
Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry training Lion Guardian Kutata how to use a radio-telemetry unit
She has worked closely with the Lion Guardians over the past seven years to collect data on both the accuracy of traditional warriors at monitoring a low-density secretive lion population as well as the demographics and movements of these lions. Her findings have shaped the Lion Guardians' wider focus of connectivity between larger lion populations found in protected areas.
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Save The Date
It's not too soon to be thinking about how to make the holidays more meaningful. Created to do just that, #GivingTuesday was organized last year by some of the world's leading philanthropists and incredibly, without much advance planning, tens of millions of dollars were raised for charity in a single day. 
This year #GivingTuesday falls on December 3rd and our U.S. sponsor, Wildlife Guardians, will be an official #GivingTuesday partner. We hope you'll mark your calendars and consider making a donation.
In the meantime, it's not too soon to start chatting up #GivingTuesday on Twitter and Facebook. We particularly liked this recent tweet by a #GivingTuesday supporter: 
"It's about doing something larger than yourself. It's about serving this world, helping others." ~@WalterIsaacson #GivingTuesday.
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