KWS counts lions at Meru National Park

In 2012, the park was estimated to contain about 40 lions.

Tuesday February 16 2016

A leopard passes by as KWS began a census of lions at the Meru National Park, February 16, 2016. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A leopard passes by as KWS began a census of lions at the Meru National Park, February 16, 2016. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHOEBE OKALL
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The Kenya Wildlife Service and Born Free Foundation have started a carnivorous animals’ census at Meru National Park.

The exercise, which started on Monday evening, targets lions in the park.

"The exercise begins today and will end on Wednesday evening. It is a scientific method and is used at random areas where we think the lions are located," said KWS senior warden Tuqa Jirmo.

The exercise saw the groups leave the station at around 6pm, with each having six points at different intervals to station themselves and try to lure the lions.

The sound of a buffalo's cry during attack was magnified on a speaker to lure the animals.

The census will last three days and has to be carried out at night as that is when the carnivorous animals come out to hunt.

"It is not a guarantee that we have to see the lions and that is why we are dividing ourselves in groups. You might expect to see lions and maybe see buffaloes that may respond, wanting to save their own, or any other animals like hyena, leopards or even cheetahs hoping to feast on the buffalo," added Dr Tarqo.

Some of the lions' census participants leave Meru National Park, February 16, 2016. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

Some of the lions' census participants leave Meru National Park, February 16, 2016. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

Meru National Park, which sits on the slopes of Mount Kenya and covering an area of 870 km² has a wide range of wild animals including the African bush elephant, Maasai lion and the African leopard. Others are the Tanzanian cheetah, eastern black and southern white rhinoceros, Grevy's zebra and hippopotamuses.

In 2012, the park was estimated to contain about 40 lions.

Meru was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award winning movie Born Free.

Elsa the Lioness is buried in this park and part of Joy's ashes were scattered on her gravesite.

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