Borderland Conservation Initiative: Forging a collaborative approach for lions

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  • Organized & Facilitated by the South Rift Association of Land Owners (Rebuilding the Pride) and Lion Guardians Hosted by the School for Field Studies Funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation and African Conservation Centre

    Meeting Report 24th-25th January, 2014

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    TABLE OF CONTENTS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2

    BACKGROUND ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

    GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 4

    MEETING SUMMARY ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4

    DETAILED NOTES PRESENTATIONS---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 7

    DETAILED NOTES WORKING GROUP DISCUSSIONS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11

    DETAILED NOTES BORDERLAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE -------------------------------------------------------------- 17

    DETAILED NOTES ACTION PLAN -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 20

    MEETING PARTICIPANTS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 24

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    BACKGROUND

    In February 2012, a workshop organized by African Conservation Centre and Wildlife Conservation Society was held in Arusha titled Conserving Elephants in the Tanzania-Kenya Borderlands: Forging a Collaborative Approach which recognized that three levels of collaboration were required to conserve a meta-population of elephants, stem poaching and ensure local communities benefited from wildlife. The three-levels involved government-to-government coordination; Mobilizing local communities to engage in conservation; and establishing a common database and monitoring program to track and monitor elephant movements, poaching, conflict and other activities in the region. Following this, several community meetings were held where the communities requested that NGOs and governments tackle conflict with lions and other large carnivores together with human-elephant conflict. This would allow us to tackle the bigger challenges that both species present, under a single initiative. Over the last three decades, lion (Panthera leo) populations inside and outside protected areas have collapsed from an estimated 75,800 to less than 32,000 today. Three main factors continue to threaten the future of Africas lions: range fragmentation, conflict with people and loss of prey. Rapid fragmentation in previously connected ecosystems make lions more susceptible to conflict, poaching, loss of prey, drought and other factors. Other large carnivores including wild dog, cheetah and hyenas are also in decline for much the same reasons.

    East Africa now has over half of the remaining lions in the world. Kenya has approximately 2,000 lions, with 75% residing in southern pastoral lands. Tanzania is estimated to have between 16,000 and 18,000 lions. Amongst these, the Maasailand ecosystem subpopulation is considered a transborder population which includes two Lion Conservation Units. Latest results show that collectively the borderland area accounts for approximately 20% of the remaining lion populations of Kenya and Tanzania. Allowing the decline of lions to continue will impact whole ecosystems, disrupting food webs and leading to the decline and possibly even extinctions of multiple species.

    In order for lion populations to survive, the aforementioned factors which threaten the future of Africas lions have to be addressed. There are many individual programs and projects that are working on lion conservation throughout the borderland area. However, it is of utmost importance to enlist the support of communities and for the specific projects and programs to work collaboratively to achieve greater goals, and ultimately to successfully conserve lions. This meeting of lion research and conservation organization is focused on bringing together all these groups for a better future for communities and lions.

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    GOALS and OBJECTIVES

    The rapid decline of lions and their habitat calls for an urgent integration of

    conservation agendas and conflict mitigation tools. To promote collaboration, Lion Guardians, the South Rift Association of Land Owners (Rebuilding the Pride) and African Conservation Centre developed and organized a Borderland Lion Initiative meeting that draws from the Borderland Elephant Conservation Initiative. This initiative aims to conserve a large, genetically viable, free-ranging metapopulation of lions along the Kenya-Tanzania borderlands through the coordination of conservation efforts and cooperation between key interest groups. Collaboration of conservation and research groups within the borderland region will be key in achieving the following goals:

    1) Sharing of data and information to improve the knowledge and understanding of movements and threats to the lion populations across the borderland area and identification of key areas for broader connectivity.

    2) Maintenance of a viable borderland lion metapopulation: complementing efforts to

    protect a network of individual lion populations and ecosystems.

    3) Improved conservation effectiveness: sharing and creating tools to mitigate conflict as well as to identify, and ultimately protect, the critical areas needed to maintain connectivity through the use of culturally-appropriate strategies and incentive schemes ensuring community support.

    4) Joint advocacy for lion conservation: improving continuity in conservation agendas

    and policymaking across the borderland region.

    MEETING SUMMARY

    In January of 2014, twenty representatives from Kenya and Tanzania-based lion research and conservation groups met to form a collaborative approach to lion conservation in the borderlands. The meeting was organized by the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Lion Guardians, and was hosted by the School for Field Studies Kenya. It was funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, African Conservation Centre and SORALO.

    Dr. Moses Okello, Director of the School for Field Studies, opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and reinforcing the need for all present to embody the scholarly qualities of humility and responsibility.

    This was followed by John Kamanga, the Director of SORALO, who represented the voice of communities in the borderland region. He expressed their desire for a forum where conflicts arising from human-elephant and human-lion interactions would be addressed, as they believed that lions are as much of a conflict species as elephants.

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    Building on this, Dr. Stephanie Dolrenry (Director of Science, Lion Guardians) talked about the theories and concepts behind metapopulations: a network of populations that are connected through dispersal and influenced by factors such as proximity and area. She presented the findings from a recent study on the metapopulations of lions across Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Dolrenry concluded by stressing the importance of Maasailand for lion conservation given that it currently has a network of well-connected, moderate sized lion populations (e.g., known lion populations exist within 300kms of each other). The lasting message from the presentation was that as lion conservationists, we need to work to reduce the probability of lion extinction by maintaining connectivity between existing populations and not only focusing on our individual sites.

    Once the stage was set, each participating organization briefed the group on their efforts in their specific areas. Copies of the presentations can be found at:

    https://app.sugarsync.com/wf/D1487157_71101232_961790

    Figure 1. Each participating organization shared information on the areas they focused on. The participants were then split into three working groups to discuss the following:

    Group 1: Community engagement and conflict mitigation Group 2: Lion survey protocols and lion identification protocols Group 3: Gap identification (geographic and scientific knowledge)

    Group 1 identified the central issue with regard to community engagement and conflict mitigation as space, specifically outside of protected areas and that the approach taken to

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    engage communities in conservation is critical to success. Different techniques are required in different circumstances and different areas. Group 2 discussed the various lion survey protocols and identification methods, listing the pros and cons of each while trying to devise a way forward on collaborative survey efforts. Group 3 identified the various geographical and knowledge gaps in the borderlands area as well as a potential way forward on how to bridge those gaps.

    Peadar Brehony (SORALO) then gave a presentation on the Borderland Elephant Conservation Initiative in order to provide a basis from which the lion partners could forge its way forward. This included specifics such as agreements on what collaborators are willing to share, what issues the Elephant Initiative has faced and what the lion partners could learn from that.

    At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed on a specific action plan (see Page 21) and a timeline for this collaborative effort. Four members (two from Kenya, two from Tanza