Magazine article Geographical

Africa Counts the Cost; Jonathan Scott Considers the Causes of Diminishing Wildlife Numbers in Africa, and Looks at a New Conservation Scheme That Might Help Save Endangered Species. (out of Africa)

Magazine article Geographical

Africa Counts the Cost; Jonathan Scott Considers the Causes of Diminishing Wildlife Numbers in Africa, and Looks at a New Conservation Scheme That Might Help Save Endangered Species. (out of Africa)

Article excerpt

In the Masai Mara it's been pouring steadily. New shoots have sprung up where the Masai have burnt off the old grass -- everywhere will soon be looking green and fresh. Then we'll pack up our safari vehicle and head off to spend some time with the lions.

The African Lion Working Group is currently trying to determine Africa's lion population. One technique that has proved invaluable in counting them is for researchers to drive along playing recordings of hyenas cackling and whooping at a kill. Lions have good hearing and the sound of hyenas is almost guaranteed to bring them out into the open.

My friend Jim Cavanaugh, who watches the Nairobi Park lions on a daily basis, is thoroughly depressed with the situation. For the last 40 years the Nairobi lions have remained fairly stable at around 30 to 35 individuals. In 1997 Jim counted 37 lions in four prides. Today there are only 22 lions in two prides. It is now a year-and-a-half since good numbers of wildebeest and zebra migrated into the Nairobi Park during the dry season. At first this was thought to be due to changing weather patterns, but the concern now is that many wildebeest and zebra have been killed by illegal meat hunters to feed the thriving market for game meat. …

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