Meet the Carnivores!

The carnivores of QENP are facing a population crisis, primarily due to their close proximity to human settlements.  The large territorial ranges of most predators, as well as their protein-based diet, mean that they often compete with humans for space and food.

An analysis of the cause of death of carnivores in the northern sector of QENP from 2006 to 2012 shows that ~70% of the known carnivore deaths were a result of anthropogenic (human-caused) factors.  Poisoning is the biggest reason, by far, and has resulted in the deaths of at least 96 carnivores in less than six years.

 

For an overview of the lion poisoning crisis, which is affecting lions not only in QENP, but also in other parts of Africa, watch this 60 Minutes segment from 2009 here or via the video below:

 

You can explore the range of lions in Uganda and the rest of Africa at the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species interactive map website or at National Geographic's "MapMaker Interactive" website 

We radio-collar certain lions and leopards in the park in order to monitor their movements, territories, risky encounters, and, particularly, their incursions into conflict “hot zones”, where they face the danger of meeting up with people and their livestock.

Below are a few of the individual carnivores that we monitor:

Madame Carola

Female hyena “Carola”, or more formally, “Madame Carola”, is the dominant female of a large clan of hyenas in the northern part of the park.  We collared her in 2014 and also have a camera trap at one of the clan’s many dens in the area.

 

 

Leopardess Kim and her son Maathai

Kim blends in superbly with her environment and loves hanging out in trees.

Kim has had frequent conflicts with humans and livestock.  Her territory runs along the busy Fort Portal-Mpondwe highway (map), which has the park on one side, and villages on the other.  Kim often enters villages in order to prey on calves and goats.  One night in 2010, she was trapped by some villagers who had lost many goats and calves to her over the years. 

Instead of killing her, which would solve the livestock loss problem and also bring in money from her skin, the villagers called us.  We darted her and relocated her to an area within the park.  However, she returned to her original territory in a matter of weeks, and ultimately we discovered she had a cub.  To see pictures more pictures of Kim, click here.  Today, she and other leopards are still regularly seen in Muhokya and other villages, preying on domestic livestock.  

We continue to monitor her and work with the villages to sensitive them to her presence.  We are grateful to the villagers for their continued tolerance and co-existence with Kim and other predators.  Muhokya is now known as "Leopard Village" as a result!  To learn about ecotourism activities in "Leopard Village" and how you can visit, click here.  

MaathaiKim's son Maathai is still a sub-adult.  While they are rarely seen together, he is still very close to her.  

 

 

 

 

 The Coalition of Three

Omukama, Papa, and Rudi are a coalition of three strong males who travelled 120km from the southern Ishasha area of the park in 2009.  This required them to swim across the hippo and crocodile filled Kazinga channel before they reached their new home.  They are now the territorial males for the entire northern sector of the park.
Each have different personalities.  Omukama scares away tourists who come too close.  Rudi is most protective.  Papa is more relaxed and not easily bothered.  They all enjoy hunting buffalo.
While their genetic diversity is good for the lion population in this area of the park, they are displacing the other males, who are either too old or too young to stand their ground.  These other males are being forced closer to the edges of the park, where they are at risk of conflict with humans.  

Omukama - Papa - Rudi

Cabral 

As a young male lion, Cabral is largely moving on his own now as he explores where best to settle down. Cabral is very vocal at night but can be shy during the day.  When the Coalition of Three male lions patrol the peninsula area, Cabral disappears. However, high human density in and around the park means there are limited areas where he can go without encountering conflict with humans. 

 

Bridget 

Bridget is approximately 7 years old.  She is in excellent shape and is a superb hunter so her cubs are typically well fed. Bridget recently began to successfully hunt buffalo, which she likely learned how to do from the Coalition of Three.  Bridget sometimes joins up with her mother, adult daughters and their offspring, which results in the park’s largest pride of up to 12 lions. Bridget can frequently be found in the open and is very approachable, so tourists often see her. However, this exposes her to aggressive tourism, which is something we educate the tour operators to be more careful about. 

 

Nubi

Nubi is a relaxed, approachable male who loves to spend his days in trees.  He is often near Fiona, and her cubs can sometimes be seen resting in the same tree with him, even though he is probably not their father.  Nubi lives in the Crater area of the park, which is an area that experiences a great deal of human-carnivore conflict.  We are worried about him, as we have neither seen him nor received a radio signal from his collar since November 2013. 

Anna’s pride

Anna’s pride is currently comprised of 8 lionesses and 3 cubs.  They are a favorite of tourists and can frequently be seen along the Kasenyi game drive route.  They frequent the entire area of the kob breeding grounds (map), and sometimes come dangerously close to the village of Hamukungu, which is mentioned in this November 2011 article in National Geographic.  We monitor Anna’s pride’s movements and alert villagers to their presence when we can.             

Kwac

Kwac is a young, strong male leopard.  He used to roam the Mweya peninsula but has since made the area around the Nyamugasani River his home.  He can be difficult to spot, with all the trees and likes to hide.  

 

Sadly, below are ones we have lost:

Aziya

Aziya made her home around the Katwe crater and Nyamugasani River (map), which is a hot spot of human-predator conflict.

The area around the Katwe crater has experienced recent illegal cultivation of land that was once gazetted for livestock grazing.  This forces cattle into the park in order to graze, where they are exposed to predator depredation.  Furthermore, the expanding cultivation attracts herbivore prey species, which then attracts the predators into this area that is set aside for human use.  To make matters worse, there is a significant amount of poaching going on here, which greatly depletes the predators' natural prey base.

The Nyamugasani River marks the community/park boundary.  Yet cattle are frequently led across this river and brought into the park to graze illegally. 

These factors cause this area to be of particularly high risk for human-predator conflict: predators prey on the livestock; and the livestock owners resort to poisoning the predators in retaliation for livestock losses. 

Throughout 2011, the rest of Aziya’s pride slowly disappeared from the area and were assumed to have been poisoned.  Towards the last half of 2011, Aziya was alone, aside from an occasional male who would wander into the area.  In this picture, she is perched above the crater that has been taken over by agriculture.  We monitored her frequently, but during the last week of 2011 could not get the signal from her radio collar.  We finally found the collar buried in the ground along the banks of the Nyamugasani River: Aziya had been poisoned.  

Mr. Grey & Twin

Mr. Grey

Mr. Grey, shown here on the left, was 18 years old when he died of natural causes in July 2012!  This was quite an old age for aSharon & Twin lion in the wild, and he’s got the battle marks to prove it!  His eye was likely damaged by a waterbuck or kob long ago.  He was frequently in the company of male lion Twin, who was likely Mr. Grey's son.

Twin, who was about 14 years old when he died a few weeks before Mr. Grey, is shown here with lioness Sharon.  Since Twin was younger and stronger, he was usually the one who got the females!  Twin and Mr. Grey were pushed out of their territory near the Kasenyi kob grounds by The Coalition of Three.  Before they died, they were ranging between the Mweya peninsula and the village of Katanguru (map), where goats often illegally graze in the park. Twin and Mr. Grey have, in turn, pushed lone young male lions further to the outer boundaries of the park.  

Fiona

Fiona was a 15 year-old lioness when she and her cubs were poisoned near the end of 2013.  You can read about the circumstances of her death by clicking here.  

Fiona lost an eye in 2001 while hunting a buffalo yet in spite of this is a successful hunter.  She was also a good mother and was very protective when her cubs are young.  She had many offspring through the years.  Haraka and Saba were her last cubs and were poisoned with her. They used to love to spend their days resting in trees. Before her death, Fiona was living in a conflict hotspot where livestock often enter deep into the lions’ hunting areas (same area where Lioness Aziya was poisoned two years prior).     

 

Juma

JumaJuma and KarlisJuma lived and hunted throughout the Mweya peninsula.  She was often seen with her sub-adult son, Karlis.

Sadly, she was poached for medicinal purposes. The UCP worked with the local police to arrest the perpetrator. You can read more about the circumstances of her death by clicking here