Two lions collared in huge six-day mission in Uganda

Our project partners the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) have reported to us that after a tough mission through southern Murchison Falls across six nights they have successfully managed to collar two new lions.

On the 15 February, the experienced team arrived in southern Murchison Falls – conditions meant they were able to access an area called the ‘honeymoon track’ – where lions were known to be regularly.

The experienced team included Michael Keigwin, Mustapha (Ishasha/WCS Lion project), Dr Richard Semanda, Dr Erik Erycel (veterinarian) and Dr Patrick Okello (veterinarian). The programme was also supported by two UCF cars to get them around the area and transport the equipment.

After four days and nights of not being close to lions the team had to resupply, refuel and get sleep. The lions were being heard but they are not used to people or cars – and were very wary and shy. Most ‘lion calling’ resulted in dozens of hyena arriving, showing a least that the hyena populations are very healthy!

The team camped and cooked out in the bush while they tried to get closer to the lions

The following morning, the team drove many miles off-road to the closest areas where lions were being heard – only one of the vehicles was able to move through the terrain, which was rocky, rough and involved crossing more than one river.

DSWF Lion collaring
The terrain was rough, and required many difficult river crossings

Finally, on the sixth night, two lions were successfully darted and collared, one female and one adolescent male.

The very healthy adolescent male was given a female collar

Both were from the same pride, and both had female collars put on. The adolescent male was a little too small for the full male collar and ran the risk of the collar slipping around the neck, hampering the GPS signal.

After six nights of tracking, both lions were finally darted and collared

The adolescent male was included in the collaring exercise to ensure that there are at least two collars on lions in the Mupina pride which roams the area, to better understand their use of the region. The team also suspects that in the next six months he will be pushed out of the pride by the two large males and will have to explore southern Murchison Falls to establish his own pride home range. His movement patters will be interesting to see the extent of the movement across the region.

After collaring these two lions, the team had to return to various parks and crises, including in Ishasha where six lions had left Queen Elizabeth Park and needed to be encouraged back.

Understanding how prides use the regions they live in is vital information which the members of the conservation projects can use to prevent poaching and protect their populations. Find out more about DSWF’s funded work with UCF and lions.