We are pleased to share with you the first issue of our newsletter, which highlights just a few of the many exciting developments that occurred in 2012. In this and future issues, we'll introduce you to individual members of our team and update you on various aspects of our efforts to protect lions in southern Kenya. You'll learn how the Lion Guardians are building support in their communities for lion conservation on more than 3,500 square kilometers of the Amboseli ecosystem and how that support is translating into growing lion populations. In our next issue, we'll update you on our efforts to expand the Lion Guardians program into two new areas.


Please share this newsletter with friends and family. With your help, we can continue to expand our circle of supporters.


   Dr. Leela Hazzah                 Stephanie Dolrenry
   Lion Guardians Director      Director of Biology
  ...and the whole Lion Guardians Team!
Celebration Time! Lion Guardian Kismir (second from right) wins the Spear Accuracy contest in the Lion Guardian Games. His fellow Guardians rush to congratulate him and lift him into the air for a celebratory lap of honor.
firststoryCub Count Climbs!

Nothing demonstrates the success of the Lion Guardians better than the birth and survival of cubs to adulthood. We are proud to report that 2011 and 2012 were boom years for cubs. Unlike previous years when cub mortality was high, nearly all the cubs from the 2011 cub-boom have survived. Within six months, the majority of the cubs will be two years old or older and considered sub-adults. This means that the lion population will be increasing for the first time in many years - an exciting achievement for lion conservation and the Lion Guardians!  Read more about the cub boom in our October Field Update.

story2Lion Group Size Increases!

Since 2004, we have collected data on how many lions are seen together. With nearly 8 years of data, we can now demonstrate that lion group sizes (total number of lions found together - adults, sub-adults and cubs) are on the rise in the areas where the Lion Guardians work. Eight years ago, possibly due to intense persecution, lions were usually found alone or in very small groups, and the largest groups encountered were usually a female with a few young cubs. The males rarely associated with females other than during brief mating sessions. Now, we are recording group sizes larger than ever previously documented. For more details read the October 2012 Field Update.


story3anchorLion Guardian Games

In June, the Lion Guardians  gathered in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro to compete in the third annual Lion Guardian Games - a competition that not only tests traditional Maasai skills - such as spear throwing - but also a few of their newly acquired  conservation skills like radio telemetry tracking. This year, over 30 Guardians participated, making it the largest turnout to date. The competition was fierce with the Guardians honing their skills months in advance in preparation for the highly anticipated two day event. During the games, the Guardians have a chance to reconnect with their fellow warriors, learn from one another and see how their work is contributing to the overall success of the programWe also take the opportunity  to thank the Lion Guardians for their dedication and hard work. Read more about the third annual gamestheir results, or view Philip Brigg's amazing pictures of the various events. 


story4Lion Guardians Wins Prestigious Award
In April, Lion Guardians was selected from a field of 208 nominees as the winner of the highly prestigious St. Andrews Prize for the Environment. Awarded annually, the St. Andrews Prize is a joint environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews in Scotland and International energy company ConocoPhillips that aims to find practical solutions to environmental challenges from around the globe. The prize is awarded to the project that best displays a combination of good science, economic realism and political acceptability. The prize money is funding the construction and operation of a training facility; at this site, conservationists who are working to conserve lions and other carnivores can come and learn the Lion Guardians approach to  conservation and how to apply it in their local communities and to a variety of species. Read more and view photos of Lion Guardians Executive Director Leela Hazzah accepting the award.


story5Amboseli Crises

During July and August, the Amboseli ecosystem was in a state of crisis. It started when a Maasai man was killed by a buffalo near Amboseli National Park. The Kenya Wildlife Service did not respond as expected to the incident, which led to widespread protests and the killing of wildlife across the entire ecosystem, including the loss of a lioness inside the national park. Thankfully, peace has now been restored after a series of meetings between Kenya Wildlife Service and local communities. The Lion Guardians played a critical role in thwarting lion hunts and calming their local communities. 


story6Non-profit Status for Lion Guardians
Thanks largely to your generous support, Lion Guardians is now a fully independent, non-profit entity. For more than 5 years, Lion Guardians operated under the umbrella of Living With Lions, which allowed our program to flourish, expand and mature. We are deeply grateful for the guidance and support we received from Dr. Laurence Frank and the Living With Lions program. We are also indebted to Panthera, which accepted contributions from donors around the world on our behalf. 


story7New Website and Updates!

This past spring, we launched our new website. We encourage you to regularly visit the site to get the most current news on the lions and Lion Guardians. You can also keep up to date by reading the Lion Guardians' blog that describes their work in the field and their efforts to protect and monitor more than 75 lions. Don't forget to follow us Twitter and Facebook too!

Story8U.S. Fiscal Sponsor Established

 Another recent and exciting development  is the establishment of our U.S. fiscal 

sponsor, Wildlife Guardians, which was made possible by the generous financial support of The Woodtiger Fund. As a U.S. 501(c)(3) charitable organization, U.S. donors can make tax deductible donations to Wildlife Guardians. Its Lion Guardians Program will support our lion conservation work across East Africa. Please consider a year-end, tax deductible donation to Wildlife Guardians' Lion Guardians Program.
In each issue we'll be keeping you up to date on our ongoing fieldwork. This issue, we are pleased to bring you our October Field Report (PDF; 466kb), which highlights our most recent exciting findings. You can access this update and future issues in the field report section of our website.
All photographs copyright Philip J. Briggs

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
Picture Of The Month
Latest News
Field Update
Reader Question
Meet A Lion Guardian
Research Focus

Latest News

Reader Question
Got a question? In each issue we will answer one reader's question about lions or the Lion Guardians program. Want to be the first to ask a question? Click here!

Meet Lion Guardian
Kapande Narok 

Before he was a Lion Guardian, Kapande had been on many lion hunts, and killed a male lion. Now that he is a Guardian, his good relationship with the other warriors has helped him to thwart many lion hunts. The community he works for has great respect for him, as he often helps young herders in the grazing fields. Read more about Kapande here

Research Focus:
Why Lions? 

We are often asked by communities, foreign guests and fellow scientists why we work so hard to save lions when there are many other species and habitats that are in severe peril or are causing more severe problems to communities (like spotted hyenas). There are many answers to this question.


Lions are charismatic. They are known the world over as a symbol of strength and courage, and have captured the awe and imagination of societies since ancient times. But lions are also ecologically essential. As both an apex predator and a keystone species, their presence in an ecosystem positively affects all the species below it and the surrounding habitat. In the past few years, scientific studies have shown how important top predators are to all systems where they naturally occur or once occurred. Studies show that if the top predator is lost the entire system can go awry, including plants as well as the water and air cycles.


As Lion Guardians, we are pleased that we are able to minimize conflict between local communities and lions. Furthermore, we are thrilled to save the individual lions we have come to know and care about, but most importantly, by saving lions, we are proud to be contributing to the broader conservation of some of the most stunning ecosystems in East Africa.


You can read more about this in Science Magazine, or in Where The Wild Things Were by William Stolzenburg.

Quick Links

Next Issue...
 In the next issue, we'll update you on our new expansion sites, explain how we're able to identify and monitor individual lions, and describe how we're recruiting a new age set of Maasai warriors to become Lion Guardians. 

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