“Leopard Village”: Community Ecotourism & Resource Center in Muhokya

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Feb282014

Lioness Fiona

We are sorry to report that Lioness Fiona and her cubs were found dead together near the end of last year, and the entire pride has now disappeared.  
 
Fiona was approximately 15 years old at the time of her death.  She had spent most of her life in the Mweya Peninsula area of the park.  However, shortly after her most recent cubs - Haraka and Saba - were born in October 2012, Fiona moved into the crater / Busunga area of the park, where cattle are grazed in large numbers by pastoralists from Nyakatonzi. 
 
Unfortunately, this is a major human-wildlife conflict hot zone, where livestock often enter deep into the lions’ hunting grounds and therefore get killed since they are easy prey.  Many lions have been systematically poisoned in this area by livestock owners over the years.   Our community outreach activities have been successful in other areas near the park, however, due to our limited funds and manpower, we are not currently able to provide any conservation outreach to the communities in the Nyakatonzi area.
 
We had, however, been monitoring Fiona extra closely for several weeks, costing us extra funds and time, as she and her cubs came into frequent contact with the livestock grazing illegally deep inside the park.  We worked with UWA to try to chase Fiona and her cubs away from that area within the park and to monitor the illegal livestock grazing. Unfortunately, we ultimately discovered their bodies one day at the end of last year.  We were not able to determine with certainty whether Fiona and her cubs were poisoned or shot, but given the events taking place the weeks prior to their deaths, and subsequent forensic findings, we do not believe their deaths were from natural causes.      
 
In addition, male lion Nubi has not been observed for quite some time nor have we been able to pick up the radio signal from his collar. Other crater-group members, including Fiona's daughter and her two cubs, disappeared too at the same time from this terrain.
 
To learn more about lioness Fiona and human-carnivore conflict, read this Oakland Zoo blog entry by clicking here
 
Here are a few photos and a video of Fiona and her cubs taken a few months before their deaths:

 

 

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