Seminars

Seminar Five- In the lion’s den-Conserving Africa’s lions.

dr jackie abell
Dr Jackie Abell

Today’s seminar was given by Dr Jackie Abell she is the director of research for ALERT she has studied at many universities and has wide variety of qualifications in a few subject areas: animal behaviour and psychology.

She has completed many marathons in support of ALERT.

Dr Abell is a member of the IUCN, and SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.

 

So what is ALERT?

ALERT is an acronym it means African lion and environmental research trust.

What do they do?

ALERT run a variety of programs to assist in the conservation of African lions. They focus their efforts on research, education and community out reach.

They believe that the best way to ensure that the lion population can be conserved is to work with local people. many of these people fear the lion or just seem them as pests due to the predation of their life stock, ALERT is helping to bridge the gap and to assist the locals with these problems.

“According to the IUCN lion populations have declined 43% in the last 21 years (1993 – 2004), with less than 20,000 remaining.”

Dr Abell told us about a research project that is being conducted by ALERT in Africa, the are working to find a way to deter the lions from hunting life stock. If effective this could help to persuade farmers to take measure to help protect the lions.

bomas
A bomas is a current method used by farmers in Africa however it alone is not enough. Credit: National geographic

It is common practice for the local people to kill a lion if it is near their farm as it is a threat to their life stock and therefore their livelihood. Some even go as far as to hunt a lion if their like stock has been attacked, however there are many other predators in the area including hyenas.

goats-leave-boma
Example of a boma. Credit: Lion Conservation

 

The method being researched was the introduction of solar powered long life (4-5 year) lights, these would be fitted to the bomas in an attempt to deter the lions.

 

 

The lights were fitted for a trial period of 18 months, the results showed a massive decrease in the number of lion related lifestock attacks in theses areas.

The local people now have a safer environment to rear their life stock and as a a result may be more receptive to conservation efforts.

My opinion

I feel it’s extremely important work that is being undertaken by this organisation and without it the chances of stabilizing the lion population and ensuring their recovery would be non existent. Without the help of the local people any outside efforts will get nowhere so we need projects like this to get them on board with conservation.

Has this affected my future plans?

Although lions aren’t really the focus of my career path currently, I still feel that learning about projects like this will benefit me when going out into a conservation based job. I hope to take part in similar research in the future.

Follow ALERT on Twitter here.

More info about their work here.

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