Notes from the field: Lana Muller
(Lion Researcher | Former MWCT Conservation Manager)
“Lorpolosie and his brother had a coalition, they killed a cow in Langata and his brother (Sirkiria, named because he specialised in donkey killing) got speared, the Moranis got mauled and he was killed and Lorpolosie ran away. MWCT employed more Simba Scouts to protect them.
Lorpolosie was not a bachelor and left Kuku and went to Mbirikani – MWCT collared him in Oltasika and after 2 weeks his transmitter stopped and he disappeared and left kuku towards the Amboseli side. He came back a year later and we had re-collared him. During this time 2 lions showed up, young ones, one with a mane and one without, which later we learned were 2 brothers. We collared the larger one with the mane and when they watched them wake up after the collaring, a huge lion shadow on a rock staring down at them attempted to attack the sedated collared lion to show his dominance, the shadow was Lorpolosie’s, so we sedated him and that’s how we re-collared him. After that collaring, he and those two males walked around for a week before splitting up and he started to settle with Namunyak, and raised one litter with her and were a pride of 16 lions moving up through Oltasika and Kanzi.”
2017 Q2 Results
Lentim has completely shifted his territory and has formed a new territory in Tsavo west NP along the border of the park and Taita land areas. He spent the whole quarter in Tsavo west national Park, and is currently utilizing a large home range area which during the quarter covered an area of: 121,539 Ha.
Orkirikoi’s collar was physically extended this quarter due to becoming tight from the growth of his mane. He has covered a vast area covering different lioness territories but mostly was based at Kanzi conservancy with Namunyak and occasionally ventured down to Kuku plain and Ormanie to spend some time with Normani. He covered an area of 28, 202 Ha during the quarter.
Namunyak was re-collared this quarter at Kanzi conservancy and has spent most of her time within the Kanzi Conservancy. She frequently went outside the conservancy and visited the Mkao and Koikuma areas. She covered a territory size of 8,280 Ha. 3
Neluai seems to have been permanent at areas close to Oldonyo Sambu-Shimo area and moved down to almost Iltilal village. She has frequently visited the park. She was involved this quarter in livestock predation. Her territory size was 11,293 Ha during this quarter.
Normani covered a large area this quarter, mostly at Kuku plain and moved to almost Langata, Kuku River and was also at the Kuku Village. She was not reported of being involved in any livestock predation during the quarter. In total she utilised a territory of 19,263 Ha.
Nesambu has spent half of her time in the Kuku Group Ranch, the other in Tsavo during this quarter. She seems to have spent some time with Orkirikoi while in Tsavo. She was involved in an incident this quarter where her pride killed five cows. She covered a total area of 3,812 ha in the weeks since her collaring in May.
LION COLLARING: 23RD – 26TH MAY
This quarter, a successful lion collaring was contacted and two lionesses, named Nesambu (newly collared) and Namunyak (re-collaring) were both fitted with new VHF & GPS tracking collars, and we are happy to announce that both individuals are in good health and the collars are transmitting valuable data. We were also able to capture and adjust the collar of Orkirikoi, as his collar was slightly tight due to his increase in size and mane development. The purpose of collaring lions on Kuku Group Ranch is done in order to reduce human wildlife conflict, which often results in the retaliatory killing of lions. Thus, data collected assists in minimizing conflict when we are able to inform herders about the location of lions before these conflicts arise.
Data collected also aids in a better understanding of lion behavior and biology allowing us to conserve this critically endangered species. The collaring operation was led by Lana Müller and Iain Olivier and was conducted together with the KWS team led by Dr. Poghon and his team from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Veterinary Unit. The collaring was a great success, and took a great deal of hard work and dedication from all team members
2017 Q1 Results
Lentim is a young dispersing male lion belonging to a male coalition and was collared in the Samai area. He spent the whole quarter in Tsavo west national Park and has ranged large distances covering an area of: 121,539 Ha.
Orkirikoi is a large adult and dominant male lion which was newly collared at the CCRC waterhole in Iltilal. Orkirikoi belongs to a coalition of three other black- maned Kuku lions and has remained quite stable in the territory of Neluai, Normani and Namunyak. He also spends some time in the park and utilized an area of 32,701 Ha.
Namunyak has spent most of her time this quarter within the Kanzi Conservancy. She frequently went outside the conservancy and visited the Mkao and Koikuma areas. She covered a territory size of 6,436 Ha.
Neluai has spent most of her time near Oldonyo Sambu area. She as well moved to the park due to Linda boma operation and has remained almost exclusively in the Andrew Rodgers Lava and Chyulu Hills National Park. Her territory size was 4,998 Ha during the quarter.
Normani is still joined in a large pride with the previously collared lioness Singula. She has covered the largest area this quarter has visited almost the whole area of Kuku Plain, Ormanie and Kuku river. In total she utilized a territory of 23,224 Ha.
During the month of March, we were saddened by the passing of an iconic Tsavo- Amboseli ecosystem lion, Lorpolosie (Oyaiyai). Lorpolosie was a well know lion on the Kuku Group Ranch and was frequently sighted by staff as well as Campi ya Kanzi guests who have been delighted by his majestic presence near the lodge for years. Lorpolosie’s core territory was near Campi ya Kanzi where he was the dominant male of Kanzi Conservancy. Competition from other male coalitions mounted fiercely, fights ensued and Lorpolosie, under pressure, lost his territory and sustained severe injuries. Due to his age, his solitary habits and the injuries from numerous fights, Lorpolosie left Kuku and died from his injuries near the Amboseli National Park.
Lorpolosie was frequently in conflict with the community in the ecosystem as he predated on livestock. The fact that Lorpolosie had managed to survive for so many years in the ecosystem is a tribute to the willingness of the Maasai community to live with lions and accept livestock losses. The Wildlife Pays livestock predation compensation program of MWCT has been key in creating this tolerance. Lorpolosie’s presence on the group ranch will be sorely missed.
Executive Director’s note: As sad as it is, this death is a reason to celebrate the success of Wildlife Pays, as it indicates that we have reached such a high density of lions that Lorpolosie was killed by other lions and not humans, as well as reached the full lifespan expected for a male.