Sunday 1st December 2013
In June this year, Pieter and Chris from LionAid went out to Kenya to explore ways in which we could work together pastoral communities to bring a fresh resolution to the predator-livestock conflict that has proved to one of the most challenging issues in predator conservation. Retaliation against predators is one of the significant factors contributing to the catastrophic decline in lion populations.
Communities are often expected to live with predators but can experience substantial livestock losses. In addition pastoralists often have to invest considerable resources in livestock herding, guarding and predator control, adding significantly to cycles of poverty among rural communities. In many African pastoralist societies, livestock also has a cultural value exceeding economic worth as cattle are valued for social, political, cultural and religious reasons. Livestock assets are the primary form of wealth acquisition and storage in these communities, and such assets are particularly vulnerable to coexistence with predators.
Past payment schemes have attempted to remedy the problem, but many rarely outweigh the costs of livestock predation. These schemes also rely on the constant supply of new funding to maintain the programmes.
The Big Life Foundation in Kenya has had considerable success to date with their compensation programme and we congratulate them on that. They also must rely on new funding to keep the programme on track but as I write this, they are enthusiastically embarking on the next funding trip to Europe. But one solution is never going to solve the problem in all situations are we are convinced the new approach we are testing (detailed below) will meaningfully add to the overall remedy to halt the decline in Africa’s carnivores.
In June this year, we were privileged to spend time among the Maasai communities in Kenya, in Kitengela and Olepolos, two of the conflict hotspots that have seen lions and other predators killed in retaliation for raids on livestock.
The Elders in these communities welcomed us warmly and were very pleased to be consulted as to their ideas for new ways forward. From them, we deepened our understanding of these conflict issues and we were guided by them as to fresh approaches to resolve the difficulties they face.
Based on these meetings we jointly decided that a pilot programme was needed to determine best methodologies before wider application across Africa.
This scheme is unique in that there is unlikely to be further need for expensive programmes to support compensation, the programme will quickly be self-sustaining, will provide additional revenue directly linked to predators, and will significantly reduce cycles of poverty caused by wildlife conflict. The compensation schemes would need to be directly linked to deterrent measures, including the need to construct predator resistant bomas equipped with proper fencing, night lights, motion sensors, etc Briefly, these innovative measures can be summed up as follows:
a) The "insurance" herd concept works on the model that partial cost of establishing deterrent measures at the bomas would be offset by provision of one calf per protected boma. This calf would be raised in a herd established on a private ranch or maybe differentiated as a locally maintained herd. Predation on community livestock would then be compensated by direct substitution. The "insurance" herd could at some time be subjected to commercial takeoff to ensure maintenance of deterrent systems and/or joint profits to the ranchers/communities. If housed with the ranchers, they would be expected to pay maintenance costs of the "insurance" herd, for example by paying the costs of dipping, needed veterinary care, etc.
b) The "investor" herd concept is similar, but in this case the communities would accept a number of animals bought by investors to be placed with their herds. In case of loss to the community herds, direct substitution could be made from the "investor" animals. The investors should be able to recoup any remaining funds after 2-3 years when their livestock is sold, with an agreed % of the sale given to the communities. Care would be taken to ensure that placement of "investor animals" within community herds would not lead to overstocking.
This innovative programme potentially has many positive outcomes:
• Substituting a community-derived compensation scheme to effectively counter the continuing frustration with existing compensation programmes
• Effective equipping of livestock bomas to deter and prevent livestock losses by wildlife predation
• Provide local people with additional revenue opportunities directly linked to carnivores
• Prevention of retaliatory killings of valuable predators
• Have a positive impact on human poverty
This project will be conducted over 24 months and we will need in excess of £260,000 to see it through to its completion.
We are planning to run these pilots in four conflict hotspot areas:
• the most Westerly is Olepolos area where predation is predominantly leopards attacking shoats in the night enclosures
• Kitengela is 70% shoat and 30% cattle predation by overwhelmingly lion.
• Isinya is 90% shoat predation by, in order - hyena, leopard and infrequently lion.
• Muereshi is 60% cattle predation mainly by lions followed by hyena and leopard
How can you help?
The overwhelming need is for fundraising to help us reach our £260,000 target. We are absolutely delighted that Care for the Wild have already decided to support us in this project and they have provided the initial funds that have brought us to Kenya this week to kick off the project. They will join us in fundraising initiatives and we thank them very much for this.
Below are some of the things that your fundraising support will purchase to fulfil the requirements of this project:
• Mini Laptop £300/$495 - we need to purchase five.
• Photocopier/printer £60/$100 – we need to purchase one.
• External Hard Drive £70/$115 – we need to purchase one.
• Safaricom Modem £40/$66 – we need to purchase five.
• Motorbike £720/$1180 – we need to purchase four.
• GPS Unit £180/$300 – we need to purchase four.
• Digital camera/battery/charger £110/$180 – we need to purchase four.
• Memory cards £6/$10 – we need to purchase four
• Boma Upgrade Kit £100/$164 – we need to purchase a minimum of five hundred.
• Four wheel drive hire per month £1290/$2065/pm - 3 months per annum
• Four wheel drive maintenance per month £60/$100
• Four wheel drive fuel per month £160/$260
• Motorbike maintenance per month £60/$100
• Motorbike fuel per month £115/$190
• Motorbike Insurance per month £25/$40
Click here to see the gallery of photos and videos we already have to show you the scope of this project. This gallery will be updated regularly as we add in new photographs so please earmark this blog and revisit regularly!
We will also provide regular updates as we continue the work and the details of the planning begin to unfold.
Be part of this new concept in lion conservation. Each and everyone of you can play a part and be justifiably proud of the contribution you have made to ensuring the continued survival of our iconic predator species and by helping these pastoral communities maintain the necessary land for conservation.
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 16:47
Friday 27th April 2012
Following a very successful and landmark LionAid conference on the conservation needs and status of African lions in Johannesburg on the 29th and 30th March, we are delighted to now publish the Action Plans agreed by the delegates.
The Management and Scientific Authorities of seven African lion range States attended as follows:
We now very much look forward to working with all these African lion range States to initiate regional and pan-African lion conservation measures to halt current catastrophic population declines in this iconic species.
Click here to access the Action Plans.
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:40
Wednesday 15th February 2012
LionAid, a leading UK charity dedicated to the conservation of lions, has been working very successfully over the past year with members of the UK and EU Parliaments to address the major issues that caused, and continue to cause, the catastrophic declines in lion populations. In the 1960’s, there were over 200,000 lions in Africa but sadly we are now down to less than 25,000, a decline of close to 90% in just 50 years.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:
"Lions are disappearing across much of Africa and if we don't act soon these magnificent creatures could face extinction.
This funding is about getting together those countries that have lions in the wild, to find a way to ensure these extraordinary animals are given the level of protection they need"
Picture credit : Chris Harvey
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:20
Monday 28th November 2011
Please click on this link to see a country by country assessment of lion trophy hunting for African nations that permit(ed) the practice. This is the most up-to-date analysis, and includes CITES export numbers, threat assessments for lion populations in each country, a summary statement for each country, and a conclusion on trophy hunting offtake.
Please bring this report to the attention of members of Congress, Senators, Members of Parliaments, and Members of European Parliament who represent you. It is a document that all decision makers need to see to end lion sport hunting. We need your active participation to circulate this report. Thank you.
Picture Credit : Chris Harvey
Add a comment | Posted by Pieter Kat at 13:07
Wednesday 2nd November 2011
LionAid is a small but very effective charity. In Africa, lions have suffered catastrophic declines in the wild from an estimated 200,000 animals in the 1960’s to fewer than 25,000 remaining today. In India, an isolated remnant has perhaps 400 individuals left.
There are many causes for this huge decline in African lions but we consider that lion sport hunting is a hugely significant additive source of mortality that needs to be immediately stopped before we can turn our attention to any other big issues that have caused declines.
There are now only around 2,500 adult male lions left in Africa and yet around 650 lion trophies (the vast majority of which are adult males) are LEGALLY exported every year.
We are currently working on a concerted campaign to bring about a ban on the importation of lion trophies into the EU. Whilst the goal of stopping lion trophy hunting worldwide is the ultimate aim, we know well that the exporting countries and hunting operators will be putting up very stiff resistance to such moves. But as with the ivory trade, the importing countries need to take a rigid stance and acknowledge that lion sport hunting is not sustainable.
Once we secure this European ban, there will be enormous pressure put on the USA (importing over 60% of hunting trophies) and on CITES (the regulatory agency) to follow suit so that a worldwide ban will become an achievable objective.
We are working with the UK and EU Governments and have so far gained the cooperation of 8 MEPs and 29 MPs across all the main political parties. In November 2010 we achieved a debate on lions in the UK Parliament and have had two written questions about lion conservation tabled to the EU Parliament (with more pending). We are now in further discussions with both the former and current Shadow Undersecretaries of State for Environment, and well as Minister Richard Benyon, current Undersecretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.
We are delighted that we have now been invited by Catherine Bearder MEP to discuss options face to face with the European Commissioner for Environment in Brussels, and the EU Intergroup for Animal Welfare and Conservation. We will also contact the President of the Parliament. All to gain the inevitable and predicted support of the other 26 EU member nations or at least a majority of them to achieve a lion trophy import ban across the European Union.
Time is very much of the essence for lions, and we believe our progress over the past year has been greatly positive.
As a Charity we depend on your donations, and in terms of lion conservation, we can assure you they will be conscientiously used to ensure the future survival of this iconic species. To add your support to this highly effective campaign and to donate, please visit our website www.lionaid.org or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 23:13
Sunday 4th September 2011
Kenya and Namibia were recently awarded the highly responsible position of chairing a CITES Periodic Review of African lions. LionAid has already written UK MPs and MEPs to urge them to support this initiative by insisting that only the highest quality information be used to evaluate population numbers remaining, and not to allow inclusion of vested –interest group inventions. LionAid also felt it would be useful for citizens of many nations concerned about lion sport hunting to write to their Kenya delegations to express support for the Periodic Review, to ask the Kenya Government to consider all aspects of lion biology in the Review, and to resist the use of data invented to promote trophy hunting. As just a single example, a lion survey conducted by vested interests has now said there are 2,700 lions in Mozambique compared to more careful data that puts the population at slightly over 1,200.
Add a comment | Posted by Pieter Kat at 14:36
Sunday 4th September 2011
KENYAN CONSULATES/EMBASSIES/HIGH COMMISSIONS
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:19
Saturday 3rd September 2011
At a recent (July 18-22) meeting of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) Animals Committee in Geneva, Kenya and Namibia were awarded the highly responsible assignation to conduct a CITES Periodic Review of African lions.
I understand that LionAid is in discussion with Members of the European Parliament to highlight their concerns about the objectivity of past decisions.
With best wishes to you and all citizens of Kenya
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 14:58
Thursday 25th August 2011
We now have 28 MPs and 7 MEPs who are supporting our campaign to bring about a ban on the importation of lions into the UK/EU. 3 of these MEPs came on board this August. The latest MEP to join us, Sharon Bowles, has also signed our online petition and “fully support (s) LionAid’s campaign to bring a stop to this barbaric and archaic sport”
This is building well.
Have you signed our petition yet?
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 10:36
Wednesday 22nd June 2011
Lion trophy hunting is a major contributory factor in the continued decline of the species. There are established means in place within the EC Wildlife Trade Regulations to ban the further import of lion trophies, and if enacted, would constitute a significant measure to abate further declines in lion populations. I support this initiative by the UK Charity LionAid, and hope you will lend it your support as well.
There is an established means of supporting the action through Regulation 338/97. As a first step, please contact MEPs Mr Keith Taylor (South East), Ms Linda McAvan (Yorkshire and the Humber),Catherine Bearder (South East England) and Sharon Bowles (South East England), all of whom are actively supporting the LionAid initiative.
Another issue to be resolved is the currently applicable abrogation of import permits for “personal effects” that extends to hunting trophies. This provision was first inserted into Regulation 1808/2001. Since then, the provision has attracted concerns over its possible conservation impact. Some NGOs sought its deletion from the draft Regulation that became Regulation 865/2006 but neither the Commission nor the Member States agreed at that time. The concern arises because it can happen that the SRG forms a negative opinion on scientific grounds but the main type of specimens in trade can still be freely imported as personal effects. For example, the current negative opinion for African Lion, Panthera leo, from Ethiopia cannot be enforced.
As an MEP, you are both privileged and responsible to represent our constituencies on issues that relate to the UK and the world community. As you might be aware, Andrew Turner MP recently (November 17th, 2010) presented a Members’ Debate in Parliament on the issue of lion conservation and specifically lion trophy hunting (Hansard 518:73, 315WH-320WH). Mr Turner mentioned that continued trophy hunting pressure on remaining African lion populations (20,000 remaining in scattered locations from an estimated 200,000 fifty years ago) is highly detrimental to the conservation status of the species. He based his opinion on scientific reports concerning the impact of trophy hunting on lion populations in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In addition, CITES figures indicate very high levels of export of a limited component of the population (adult and subadult males) from a species already in rapid decline. Such high and specific levels of offtake severely compromise reproduction of populations occurring in both protected and unprotected areas and are not sustainable. Mr Turner requested an intercession with whatever assistance the UK Government could provide. Minister Richard Benyon received the debate, and promised further action.
Subsequently, the Minister has requested further information from Tanzania as to the sustainability of trophy hunting in light of the overall precipitous decline in lion numbers, and if his officials judged that the reply was not satisfactory, the matter would then taken up with CITES that currently lists lions on Appendix II.
As you know, the UK is a minor importer of hunted lion trophies, but the European Union as a whole is a major destination. At present, trophy hunting of lions does not comply with many stipulations of Council Regulation (EC) 338/97 concerning the EC Wildlife Trade Regulation (WTR). Specifically, lion trophy hunting is NOT:
• Based on sound biological data collected from the target population(s);
The WTR deals with the protection of wild fauna and flora by regulating the trade in such species within the EU. With a system of four Annexes, the Regulation lays down provisions for import, export, and re-export as well as internal trade in species. The EC generally follows CITES recommendations, but Member States can go beyond CITES in a number of respects. For example, import conditions for species listed in WTR Annexes A and B (roughly equivalent to CITES Appendices I and II) can be stricter than those of CITES.
There is also a possibility under the WTR to upgrade a CITES Appendix II species (regulated trade) to WTR Annex A (no trade within the EU). Precedents to afford greater protection for certain species within the WTR have been established.
Overall, the process towards establishing an import restriction for lion trophies into the EU is straightforward and there are many levels at which input is requested to facilitate an informed opinion. The most significant advantage, however, is that the process is scientifically guided and not as prone to the political lobbying characterizing CITES decisions. Among other advantages are the regular meeting schedules of the Scientific Review Group established under Council Regulation (EC) 338/97 (3-4 times per year instead of once every three years for CITES), the immediate and tangible benefits of removing a significant contributory factor to the decline of lion populations, and also, the important message that could be sent worldwide.
There are presently 28 UK MPs supporting this issue brought by Mr Turner and the UK charity LionAid, and the number is growing, plus 8 UK MEPs. It is an indication of the effectiveness of a parliamentary debate.
I would be very pleased to hear back from you about this important issue, and for further information please contact LionAid Trustee, Christine Macsween, directly at email@example.com
All best regards,
Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 21:24