How do you stop lions eating livestock, and people from killing lions in retaliation? How do you improve the relationship between people and one of the worlds biggest carnivores? These are the challenges that have faced lion researcher Alayne Oriol-Cotterill, Lion Landscapes together with collaborators Ewaso Lions and University of California.
New high-tech collars allow Alayne and her team to collect movement and activity data from lions who live in Kenya outside of protected areas, sharing the landscape with people and livestock. Lions are nocturnal and very elusive, particularly in areas where they are in conflict with people, and so without this technology very little is known about this uneasy coexistence.
To help communicate this normally 'invisible' story we have created a proof-of-concept web-tool that uses a month's worth of historic data on three pride movements. At this stage the tool shows historic pride movements and kill information but it could be developed to reveal real-time aspects of the lions lives, sending particular interesting information as text alerts. Note that the tool has not been designed for viewing on smartphones yet, and no design work has been done to make this acceptable for public viewing - that will be for the next stage!
The first application for the tool would be as part of a livestock protection system; lion friendly livestock owners could easily track the location of their local lion prides, and plan the movements of their livestock herds to avoid them. Alerts could be sent whenever a lion moves close to livestock, makes a kill, meets up with another collared lion, or other potentially useful information.
This tool could also be used as part of an adoption or education program; people and schools who adopt a lion could receive regular alerts, as well as watch their lion's movements on the map and learn about the challenges their lion faces in the wild. Understanding more about these collared ambassadors, informs conservation efforts and fosters greater tolerance amongst those that share their land with lions.
Alayne is now seeking funding to develop the tool to use real-time data for livestock protection. That working tool could then be further developed to provide the core of an engaging adoption / education program.
See more here about the lion conservation work of Alayne and her partners.