Earlier this month, the SCI Foundation, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and Mississippi State University (MSU) announced a joint effort to complete the most scientifically robust lion population survey in the history of lion science. Set to begin in August 2015, the project will initiate in Serengeti National Park because of its large and accessible lion population.
Lions here have been studied heavily through the years, and the knowledge gained through such studies will be used to measure the success of the new survey methods.
“This research intends to identify the most accurate and cost-effective method available to estimate lion abundance and distribution,” announced SCI Foundation (SCIF) President Joseph Hosmer. If successful, the study will provide a model research design for all lion-range states.
MSU’s Dr. Jerry Belant, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, developed the experimental design based partly on methods he has applied to studying North American carnivores. The framework will allow Belant to gauge lion abundance across large areas. The information then can be used by African governments to improve lion conservation and management across the continent.
Dr. Al Maki, Chairman of the SCIF Conservation Committee added, “This is a great project and one that we have been working to put together now for over a year. This is a classic example of the hunting community supporting essential conservation work directly with a key government agency to provide a much needed field method for censusing lions in their natural habitat. If the research proves successful we will have a simple and cost effective method for other sub-Saharan countries to adopt in their lion census programs.”