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Since 1995 SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Adventure CampsSM have played host to nearly 300,000 campers, hailing from all 50 U.S. states and 22 countries.
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» The Limbe Wildlife Centre, Limbe, Cameroon...
» Entering the Emperor’s Realm in Antarctica
» Vanuatu
» Tesso Nilo National Forest
» The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fujifilm Environmental Excellence Awards: A Local Approach to Conservation
» Tracking Lions in Kenya with Dr. Lawrence Frank
» SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
» The Galapagos
» An African Adventure to Remember

Lions in this area are wary. Humans hunt them when livestock is threatened or taken. Instead of risking scaring them away, Dr. Frank used a pig call to entice the lions towards us. Dr. Frank armed himself with a rifle and plenty of ammunition while his Masai assistant carried the telemetry gear. As we waited, Dr. Frank blew on the pig call as if to announce, "Hungry lions, injured pig for dinner right here." A few moments later, Dr. Frank nudged me and pointed straight out. No more than 15 yards away was an intense pair of eyes staring right at me. I looked to the left and saw another lion pacing back and forth just five yards farther. She stopped, turned and gave us the biggest, longest snarl I have ever heard.

As she turned to leave, we could clearly see the radio collar around her neck. Dr. Frank and his assistant got what they needed - confirmation that the two lions traveling with the females were 2-year-old cubs that had not been observed for months. And we got what we wanted - firsthand experience with the research project SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have supported for four years. Hopefully, the conflict resolution approach Dr. Frank is taking through sound research, science and community involvement can serve as a model for similar wildlife challenges worldwide.

Note: The Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures episode featuring Julie Scardina's adventure with Dr. Frank and the lions of Laikipia will air in Spring 2004.

Tracking Lions in Kenya with Dr. Lawrence Frank
By Julie Scardina, SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Ambassador

Even in our wildest dreams, we never expected to be tracking African lions on foot and using a pig call to bring them closer. But that is exactly what happened on a recent visit to Dr. Lawrence Frank, director of the Laikipia Predator Project in Nanyuki, Kenya in East Africa.

In Kenya and throughout much of Africa, lions and other predators have declined dramatically over the past several decades, primarily due to conflict with humans over habitat and livestock - a familiar scenario on many continents. The Kenyan locals have lived with predators for centuries and have devised systems to keep their prized cattle, goats and sheep relatively safe. But with the addition of more people and less prey, predators have increasingly turned to livestock. With support from Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, Dr. Frank is working to reduce this conflict. Through his research and community outreach, this field biologist has helped protect and preserve the status of the predator as a beneficial neighbor.

Dr. Frank also conducts population studies on lions, hyenas and other carnivores. On our second morning in camp, Dr. Frank performed an aerial survey to determine the location of previously radio-collared lions. We located two females traveling with cubs.