California and East Africa Share the Challenge and Responsibility
It still amazes me that we live near lions. Lions! We live in an ecosystem that includes an apex predator, a beautiful symbol of the biodiversity in California. Today, I could cast my eyes onto a local
mountain range and know that this magnificent animal could be there, but let’s back up a few months.
In fall 2008 an Oakland Zoo Eco-Trip visited conservation projects we support in Uganda. There, we embarked on a safari with lion ecologist, Dr. Ludwig Siefert. The landscape was beautiful, peaceful, and missing something. Though we had seen a herd of elephants the evening before, on this clear morning, the habitat was empty of one of the most important parts of the eco-system: predators. We looked to Dr. Siefert for an explanation.
African lions have found domestic cattle grazing in their habitat to be easy prey. Unfortunately, the local herdsmen who own the cattle let them graze in the park rather than in the lush pasture right outside. Their solution for lions, leopards, and hyenas that prey on their livelihood is to put poison on carcasses and leave them as bait. There has to be a better way, we thought. (more…)