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Lion Story

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 6 Jan 2010


Happy New Year from all of us at Frontier!

We have had an exciting start to the year, with some very interesting findings from the Frontier Tanzania team. Recently, many tracks of wild mammals have been observed in the vicinity of Sayari camp, including African wildcats, Felis silvestris lybica, spotted hyenas, Crocuta crocuta, and even a lion, Panthera leo!

The Kilombero Valley has long been a very important area for large mammal populations. It is situated between two protected areas, the Selous Game reserve and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, and has been historically used as a migration corridor between the two zones. However, the valley is now under increasing pressure from human disturbances such as agriculture and grazing.

One central element of the research carried out in Tanzania consists in the long term monitoring of large mammal densities, specifically in the pristine miombo woodland to the East of the village of Lupiro. Since the monitoring of the Kilombero valley started in 1998, a variety of different species tracks have been identified, but very rarely lion and wildcat markings. The genet, Genetta spp., and the African civet, Civettictis civetta, have been the most prominent, with several genet species being recorded for the first time in the area. Previously, the colourfully striped African civet has also been of particular interest to the team, with results suggesting that these crafty omnivores were more abundant near human habitations, probably due to their broad diet and ecological plasticity.

By contrast, wild cats, hyenas and lions naturally tend to avoid approaching human settlements. The members of the team who came across these imprints were therefore very lucky. However, this might be a bad sign for these animals as it shows that the increase of human encroachment in the Kilombero Valley keeps pushing these populations further east towards the natural woodland where Frontier camp is situated.

Read more about our Tanzania African Wildlife Conservation Adventure