Pride in Our Prides- News to Roar about!

Our lion population is GROWING! Both Mayenga and Maleherehere are both showing signs of denning.  Maleherehere or "Shy One" has been denning for several weeks. Though we have not confirmed the number of cubs yet, we excited about the prospect of her pride growing.  When we first started our program, Maleherehere was in a pride of two females with 4 cubs. In 2015, her pride mate was killed and only two of the cubs have made it to sub-adulthood. In May there were reports of her mating and denning right on schedule.

In early August, Mayenga or "Decorated By the Gods" was seen mating with an unknown male.  Recent movement patterns suggest that she has begun denning as well. Lions are pregnant for approximately 3.5 months, so her denning behavior confirms that the observed mating was successful.  Mayenga and her pride mate had 6 cubs when we started our tracking in 2014. Four of their cubs have died, but two females cubs are nearly adults now- doubling the size of the pride.  With the new cubs, we hope that their pride continues to grow as the region starts to show signs of stability after the devastating poisoning events of 2013.

In other very exciting news, we have received our new satellite tracking collars. Next month, we will deploy all 6 collars (4 on our current study animals and 2 newly identified lions).  As part of the darting effort, we will be working with colleagues from National Geographic to video lion behavior with CritterCams. The CritterCams are small, lightweight cameras that are secured to the lion's collar to give a "lions-eye-view". We will use this footage to show villagers a new perspective on the lions living in their area.

With the new cubs in the area, we are also hoping for accurate litter count and exciting footage to share with you all! Stay tuned.

A Big Thank You to the communities of Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha, and Gudigwa for collaborating with us to help protect their livelihoods and the regional lions. Our work would not be a success without their active interest and support.

Thank you National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative, WWF Netherlands INNO Fund, SPOTS Foundation, Experiment.com and all of our donors for helping us purchase these collars to continue our vital lion tracking and early warning system.

"Into the Lions Den" our newest blog post is up on National Geographic's Cat Watch!

Conservationists often put in long hours tracking animals, meeting with communities and writing reports.  It is rare to have a day where you can honestly say you have worked closely with members of the community to address their concerns and make a direct impact on the species you are working hard to protect.  Eric LeFlore is a PhD student working for Pride in Our Prides in Northern Botswana and in this blog post he recounts a day last month where tensions were running high and the hunting party was getting set to retaliate for a recent string of lion conflict events.

Mayenga ("Decorated by the Gods") sporting her satellite tracking collar as she walks among her cubs

Mayenga ("Decorated by the Gods") sporting her satellite tracking collar as she walks among her cubs

Researchers and conservationists must take the needs of the community into account if wildlife is to persist outside of fenced reserves. The Pride in Our Prides Program is already making progress in engaging communities for the benefit of people and lions.

Click HERE to read the full blogpost! Thank you for your interest and support!

Early Lessons from our Lion Monitoring Program blog post on National Geographic's Cat Watch!

Eretsha and his coalition mate

Eretsha and his coalition mate

Incoming text message "Lions are in the village"! Our early warning system has helped us inform villagers about the individual lions who roam into their villages at night. By sharing this information we gain the trust of villagers and help them protect their livestock from conflict. Read more about the progress of Pride in Our Prides in our blogpost on National Geographic's website Cat Watch!