Big Cats Initiative Grantees Develop New Lion Alert System

Today, the journal Frontiers of Ecology and Evolution published an analysis of a new lion alert system designed to protect lions and help communities thrive. This innovative approach to promoting human-wildlife coexistence was developed with support from the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative. Lion populations have plummeted in recent decades due in part to conflict with people. As habitats become more fragmented, lions are more imperiled. In northern Botswana, when lions kill cattle, the villagers often seek revenge by killing lions that may not have been the culprit of the attack.

The alert system deploys special satellite tracking collars on lions with a feature called “geofence,” a programmed line of coordinates that gets triggered when the collared animal crosses it and sends a special message to the local community, providing them with a warning about the approaching lion. Villagers that heeded the warnings saw a 50 percent reduction in their livestock losses.

“We hope this system will act as a template for alert systems worldwide — whether for wolves on Montana ranchlands, for tigers near villages or for other applications in promoting coexistence and conservation,” said Dr. Andrew Stein, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee and a co-author of the paper.

Watch Stein’s team working to sustainably reduce conflict between people and lions in northern Botswana in this video:

The lead author of this paper, Florian J. Weise, is also a Big Cats Initiative grantee. The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative supports scientists and conservationists like Stein who are working to save big cats in the wild. Since its inception in 2009, the project has funded more than 120 grants in 28 countries. Learn more about the initiative.

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