Ewaso Lions (Kenya)


Africa’s lions are in trouble -- the lion population has declined by 43% in the last 20 years and lions now occupy only 8% of their historical range in Africa. This reduction in numbers is mainly due to habitat loss and conflict with humans, primarily over livestock depredation. Kenya’s lion population is now less than 2,000 individuals, and could be extinct in the next two decades. Ewaso Lions firmly believes that the success of lion conservation hinges on the involvement of local people who live among predators - the long-term survival of predators depends on finding ways people can coexist with their presence.

Challenges to Conservation

Habitat Loss

The conflict between wildlife and humans over diminishing resources is a problem throughout the African continent. Lion prides require a large home range, and in northern Kenya that means they live and travel across a variety of land use types: not just protected areas like national parks and reserves, but also community conservancies, public lands, and private ranches. A growing human population and the increase of livestock with it means that lions are competing with local communities and their animals for space and food. Overgrazing by livestock and poorly managed development can have a detrimental effect on lions’ wild prey and the health of their overall habitat, as well.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

The Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem of northern Kenya is one of the few areas in Africa where lions exist outside protected areas. Because of this, lions in this region are highly vulnerable as they come into regular contact with people who live in the area. Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock, and people retaliate for this economic loss by shooting, poisoning or spearing lions and other large carnivores.

Conservation Approaches

Research and Monitoring

The project’s core research goals focus on understanding lion prides’ associations with each other and their movements in the wild, the extent of human-wildlife conflict in the area, and the impact of habitat loss. This information is used to formulate strategies for long-term lion conservation. Research activities include monitoring individual lions and pride associations, tracking with GPS collars to map lions’ movements across reserves and community lands, investigating incidences of human-wildlife conflict, monitoring populations of prey species, and measuring change in local attitudes toward wildlife and conservation.

Community Conservation Programs

An essential part of Ewaso Lions’ strategy is to promote coexistence between people and wildlife. The project provides education and helps build local capacity for wildlife rangers and community leaders. Community-Based Conservation programs include:

Oakland Zoo Takes Action...


Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Grant has provided funds for Ewaso Lions.

Outreach and Education

Oakland Zoo connects to our public through docent tours and stations, special events and a variety of outreach and education programs with messages about lions and how to co-exist with them and conserve them.


Our ecotours to Kenya spend time with the Ewaso Lions project, gaining invaluable insight into the challenges facing both the human and wildlife populations in this part of Africa.

...And So Can You!