DR. MARGARET KINNAIRD
Research: Lions, Zebras and Human Livelihoods
Species/Topic: African lions, Grevy's zebra, educational outreach
Laikipia County, Kenya provides refuge for several endangered species including 40% of the world’s remaining Grevy’s zebras (Equus grevyi). Landowners value predators and tolerate moderate livestock predation because many host lucrative tourist operations. As a result, Laikipia boasts Kenya’s only population of African lions (Panthera leo) outside protected areas. There is concern that lions are limiting Grevy’s zebras and causing livestock losses, creating a conservation conundrum in which successful lion conservation may result in fewer zebra and negatively impact the livelihoods of those not profiting directly from tourism, especially Maasai pastoralists. Our research aims to measure lion impact on Grevy’s zebras, to produce teaching curricula to engage school children in predator/prey relationships, and to test a lion alert system for herders. Our research will improve our understanding of wildlife trends, help manage competing needs of predators, prey, pastoralists and ecotourism, and encourage positive attitudes toward lions among Kenyan children.