(traditional Maasai greeting) 


This year began with a flurry of activity and excitement in and out of the field. In just four months, we have already experienced both incredible highs and some devastating lows. We wanted to share some of these moments with you because you are an important part of our community and your support allows us to continue making a difference for lions and people in all of the areas where we operate. 


Since January, we have been hard at work trying to form important collaborations and partnerships within Kenya and across the border in Tanzania to enhance lion conservation efforts. We kicked off these efforts by co-facilitating the first ever "Borderland Conservation Initiative" lion meeting at the end of January. To learn more about this and our other exciting activities that were carried out this year, please take a moment to read through the updates below. 


Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we plan to launch the Lion Guardians training program mid-year. The goal of the program is to help amplify the reach and impact of our model across African rangelands and also across different cultures and species. In May, we will be spending time in northern Tanzania at potential expansion sites while also helping to implement specific lion monitoring protocols (e.g., spoor routes) at our Tarangire and Ngorongoro expansion sites. 


We hope that you find this newsletter interesting and informative and will share it with friends and family so we can continue to expand our community. 


It takes a community to conserve lions and preserve cultures, we are grateful that you are a part of ours. 


Ashe Oleng 

(Thank you in Maasai) 



 Dr. Leela Hazzah & Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry

Executive Director and Director of Science


All of us at Lion Guardians would like to wish our supporters a very Happy Mother's Day! In this photo, Selenkay's young cub licks his lips after feasting on a zebra, thankful for his mother's prowess as a hunter.

Borderland Conservation Initiative: Inaugural lion meeting brings together great minds from Kenya & Tanzania
On January 24thand 25th, Lion Guardians and Rebuilding the Pride co-facilitated the inaugural, "Borderland Conservation Initiative," meeting, which was hosted by the School for Field Studies, Kenya The meeting was organized to promote cross-border collaboration between lion conservation partners from all over Maasailand in Kenya and Tanzania.
Participants at the meeting
Twenty representatives met for two days to discuss how to monitor and secure lion populations in non-protected areas. The primary objective of the meeting was to improve conservation efforts by sharing information and knowledge about lion populations, movements and threats as well as coordinating actions across borders. At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed on a specific action plan and a timeline for this collaborative effort. The Lion Guardians team looks forward to collaborating at this broader scale to improve the survival of lions as they migrate outside of Lion Guardians' areas of operation.


Leela receiving the Future for Nature Award from Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton and Saba Douglas-Hamilton
In early 2014, we received the exciting news that Dr. Leela Hazzah, had officially been declared as one of the winners of the Future for Nature Award - 2014. The Future for Nature Award, which honors only three people each year, is a prestigious international award that celebrates tangible achievements in protecting wild animal and plant species. At the end of April, Leela travelled to Holland to receive the prize and gave a brief presentation on the Lion Guardians program. 
This video from the awards function highlights the key speakers at the event - watch from 3:27 to hear Leela speak at the Future for Nature award ceremony.
St Andrews Prize for the Environment invites past winners back


Lion Guardians won the St. Andrews Prize for Environment in 2012, and since then, thanks to this prize, we have been able to scale up our program in many ways. 


This year Leela was invited back to Scotland to talk about how the prize helped us increase our capacity and capabilities. She was one of the eight prize-winners, from over the years, who was invited back for this special seminar entitled, "Eight People Who Are Changing The World".


Losing Len'gan'ga, Gaining Perspective: Changing times call for adaptive co-management


In April the Amboseli ecosystem suffered a devastating loss - four year-old male lion, Len'gan'ga, was speared to death in Mbirikani Group Ranch. The news filtered to us at the Lion Guardians Training Center after Mokoi, the Lion Guardian responsible for that area, called the report in. We responded immediately to verify the killing, along with our collaborators the Big Life Foundation. Apparently, Len'gan'ga and a female companion had been found feasting on the carcass of a cow by the young herders and warriors who had gone out to search for the lost cow. Len'gan'ga's speared body was found approximately 2kms from the carcass, indicating that the herders and warriors had given chase as Len'gan'ga fled for his life. So as much as we had hoped that the news was false, once the Lion Guardians team arrived at the carcass, examined the whisker spots and ear notches, it was confirmed to be Len'gan'ga.



The Lion Guardians have known Len'gan'ga since birth; he was a fairly well-behaved lion - one who rarely killed livestock. As we were dealing with the grief of losing Len'gan'ga, the team realized that somewhere along the line our chain of information had broken down, we should have heard about the lost livestock and a Lion Guardian should have been with those young herders and warriors as they were out looking for the lost cow. As we analyzed the situation, we understood that the coming of a new warrior age set had meant that our Lion Guardian who was of the older age-set, was not included in the discussions on lost livestock or impending hunts. The second reason was that the Lion Guardian in that zone was now a regional coordinator for the area and therefore spent significant amounts of time out of his zone verifying and training other Lion Guardians in his region.


Once we understood where our system had broken down, the Lion Guardians team swung into action. In particular, we:

  1. Identified current hotspots across our areas of operation where lion hunts are likely to happen from the new warrior age-set and why they are likely to happen.
  2. Identified how we would fill any gaps in those hotspots based on what the motivations behind lion killing were in that particular area. We decided on a case-by-case basis that we would either employ an informer, recruit a young warrior from the current age-set (Iltuati) or hire a more mature warrior.

Since the killing of Len'gan'ga, we have moved quickly and held interviews in several locations. We now already have several new warriors volunteering as Lion Guardians. Our informant network has been expanded and we have also ensured that there is adequate backup for regional coordinators when they are outside of their particular zones.


Len'gan'ga's loss spurred us into action and cemented in our minds that we are now living in changing times - as the new warrior age-set becomes more powerful, our model to conserve lions and preserve cultures has to adapt to these rapid changes. 


Introducing Lion Guardian: Lelian Ole Nkodidio

Lelian Ole Nkodidio was hired in September 2013 and is one of our most prom
ising new Lion Guardians from the young warrior age-set.

Lelian monitors the Oltepesi zone in Eselenkei Group  Ranch. He covers the north-west corner of the ecosystem. As a warrior chief of the new warriors, Lelian plays a critical role for conservation. Because he is highly regarded by his peers, he is able to explain the importance of monitoring and conserving lions to the community and the many reasons why Maasai should continue to coexist with lions. Since his training in October 2013, Lelian has reinforced one boma that experienced incursions by carnivores and since his help there have been no further incursions. He also recovered 16 cows, goats and sheep. Had it not been for Lelian's hard work the majority of these livestock would have been killed by carnivores if left out overnight.


We have just announced that the Annual Lion Guardians Games will be held on the 18th of July. Lelian and all his fellow Lion Guardians in Kenya and Tanzania, are extremely excited and are now working even harder as the date for the Games fast approaches.


A healthy ecosystem requires diversity, with each species playing a different but key role to ensure its functionality and sustainability. A healthy and successful organization needs the same. The impact of Lion Guardians is the result of many, and each role is critical to our success.

It takes a community to conserve lions & preserve cultures - we're grateful you are a part of ours.

In This Issue
Featured Photo
News From The Field & Beyond
Feature Story
Meet a Lion Guardian
Did You Know
Support Us

  Did You Know?

Lions in non-protected areas can travel thousands of sq. kms during their lifetime.

In 2009, when lion monitoring first expanded outside of Mbirikani Group Ranch we expected to find many new individual lions in the areas we were expanding to. When the first Olgulului Group Ranch Lion Guardian volunteer made a report from the far west side of the Amboseli ecosystem, we were excited to begin our work photographing and documenting the new lions inhabiting these areas. After hours of tracking, we were able to obtain a visual, and were shocked to find the 'new' lions were actually two lionesses, Nempakai and Nolakunte, that we had been monitoring since 2007 on Mbirikani Group Ranch.


Many of us assume that all lions have similar sized home ranges no matter where they live. The truth of the matter is actually quite different for lions that live in non-protected areas. During her research for her PhD, Stephanie found that the home range for males and females living in Lion Guardians' areas of operations was on average over 20 - 40 times greater than those who lived in nearby protected areas.


Table showing home ranges
of lions in non-protected and protected areas by gender

  In The News
This year has also been very busy on the news and publications front. Both of our directors have had articles published in leading conservation journals, and the Lion Guardians program was covered in regional (African) media as well as highlighted by Upworthy, an international blog that only shares content that is "awesome and meaningful". Below is a list of links to these articles and media reports.


2014 Events Calendar
January: Borderland Conservation Initiative: Inaugural lion meeting

March: Spring Fundraisers in the U.S.

July: Annual Lion Guardians Games
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:
Our U.S. fiscal sponsor is now officially called "Lion Guardians U.S.
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