Nairobi Park Diary: Sharing and caring

LESS MAJESTIC: Athi the collared lioness. Photo/GARETH JONES
LESS MAJESTIC: Athi the collared lioness. Photo/GARETH JONES

We drove in the river treeline in the Athi basin , and soon found a lioness , under a tree near the road . I identified her a “Athi” a well known lioness with cubs , we sat and observed her for some time . ‘Athi” the lioness was clearly not comfortable with this bulky and unsightly collar around her neck , as she had difficulty lying down naturally .

In recent times a number of the Nairobi National Park lions have been collared ( at least 4 lions ) with the official reason being given that in order to protect the lions , collars have been fitted do research and monitor their movements , especially if they wander outside the park .

For many people , including tourists , seeing lions with heavy and ugly looking collars on is always sad ! Collared lions reduce majestic and once free ranging lions , into a form of bondage by having leather collars yoked around their necks with heavy battery packs , that only last for a limited time period ( about 2 years ) .

However there are a number of research projects in Africa that are using improved GPS type collars that are lighter and have a longer battery life , and appear to be more comfortable for the big cats . Lion collars are also very expensive , to purchase and maintain . A number of people believe that there are other cost effective alternatives for protecting lions like installing the “lion lights” LED sensor system around livestock boma’s to minimize the possibility of lions attacking livestock at night .

Like it or not it appears that due to mankind increasingly advancing into territory previously dominated by wildlife , methods to protect endangered predators need to be implemented to ensure their long term survival . We hope that should the need for collared lions continue , that those involved in the decision making process will use the latest technology to ensure the least discomfort for the big cats and the best results to ensure their protection .

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