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.