Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

King of beasts losing ground in Uganda's paradise

Date:
October 24, 2013
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Conservationists warn that Uganda's African lions -- a mainstay of the country's tourism industry and a symbol of Africa -- are on the verge of disappearing from the country's national parks.

Two male African lions recline in the tall grass in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park. Conservationists from the WCS and the University of St. Andrews warn that Uganda's lions are disappearing from the country's national parks.
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of St. Andrews warn that Uganda's African lions -- a mainstay of the country's tourism industry and a symbol of Africa -- are on the verge of disappearing from the country's national parks.

According to the results of a recent survey, African lions in Uganda have decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years in some areas of the country, mostly the result of poisoning by local cattle herders, retaliations for livestock predation, and other human-related conflicts. The downward trend in lion numbers has conservationists concerned about the species' long-term chances in the country, often described as the "Pearl of Africa" for its natural wonders.

The study appears in the latest edition of the journal Oryx. The authors include: Edward Okot Omoya, Tutilo Mudumba, Paul Mulondo, and Andrew J. Plumptre from WCS and Stephen T. Buckland of the University of St. Andrews.

"African lions are a vital component of these ecosystems," said WCS conservationist Edward Okot Omoya, the lead author of the study. "They play an important role in disease control of antelopes and buffalo by killing the sick animals."

The paper describes the results of a "lure count" analysis survey to estimate the density and population distribution of lions and spotted hyenas in Uganda's three major conservation areas, conducted by researchers between November 2008 and November 2009. The researchers used a buffalo calf distress call (broadcast via speakers mounted on a vehicle roof rack) to attract both medium and large carnivores to the "call stations" as a means of calculating a current population estimate for the study locations. Previous survey methods used to count lions have included counting roars, identifying individual cats, and mark-recapture methods, but the methods are time-consuming and expensive.

Overall, the call station surveys attracted a total of 66 lions, 176 spotted hyenas, and seven leopards. The broadcasts also attracted a host of smaller predators, including side-striped jackals, black-backed jackals, white-tailed mongooses, and large spotted genets.

Using the data of animals observed, the analysis generated an estimated lion population of 408 animals in the three main strongholds for lions in Uganda, nearly two hundred fewer lions than estimates made in 2000-2002 (a statistical decrease of more than 30 percent). In Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, estimated lion numbers have decreased from 206 to 144 over the past decade (a 30 percent drop). In Murchison Falls Conservation Area, the team estimates a nearly 60 percent drop (from 324 to 132 lions in the past decade). Only in Kidepo Valley National Park did the researchers detect an increase in estimated lion numbers (climbing from 58 to 132).

"Lions are the species tourists most want to see in Uganda's savannas according to research by WCS. Surveys of tourists have shown that they would be 50% less likely to visit the parks in Uganda if they couldn't see lions, and if they did visit they would want to pay less for the experience. As an industry that generates more foreign currency in the country than any other business this could have significant consequences for Uganda" reported Dr. Andrew Plumptre, WCS's Director for the Albertine Rift.

The study also represents the first survey of hyena numbers from these areas, generating a population estimate of 324 hyenas (the researchers suspect -- but cannot prove -- hyenas to be in decline as well).

"Conservation areas such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls, which formerly contained the highest biomass of mammals on Earth, depend on the delicate balance between predators and prey," said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS's Africa Program. "Their loss would permanently alter two of Africa's great ecosystems."

The crisis in lion conservation in Uganda reflects the status of the species across Africa, where lion populations have dropped by 30 percent over the past two decades as a result of illegal killing and the loss of both habitat and prey. The most recent estimate of Africa's total lion population is approximately 32,000 animals. A group study led by WCS estimated that 42 percent of major lion populations are in decline. The species is nearly extinct in West and Central Africa. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature but there is a current proposal to list the species as "Endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of the continuing global declines.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Edward Okot Omoya, Tutilo Mudumba, Stephen T. Buckland, Paul Mulondo, Andrew J. Plumptre. Estimating population sizes of lions Panthera leo and spotted hyaenas Crocuta crocuta in Uganda's savannah parks, using lure count methods. Oryx, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605313000112

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "King of beasts losing ground in Uganda's paradise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024141428.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2013, October 24). King of beasts losing ground in Uganda's paradise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024141428.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "King of beasts losing ground in Uganda's paradise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024141428.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins