During the Lion Guardians’ duties of monitoring lions around their communities and surrounding zones, their skills and knowledge are fine tuned to locate evidence of these predators, which would remain unseen to the untrained eye.
Evidence of lions can come in a variety of ways, for example hearing them roar at night and following that direction in the morning, finding tracks, scat and hair, and locating prey which they have killed – sometimes vultures circling in the sky can help pinpoint this.
The traditional knowledge the Guardians have is often used to predict where the lions may be in any given day or seasonal pattern. With this experience, a Guardian may manage to find evidence like a needle in a hay stack.
Recently, Lion Guardian Kapande found a large drag mark on the ground during his monitoring. Immediately he recognised this as evidence of a dead animal dragged by a predator (when a predator kills its prey it often wants to take it into a safer location, out of the way of the watchful eyes of other predators and scavengers who want to steal it). Here is an example of a drag mark on the ground created by a predator dragging its prey.
Knowing this, Kapande followed the marks on the ground and eventually saw tracks of the culprit… a large male lion. From the size and shape of the lion track Kapande had no doubt it was the male lion Kasayio whose territory is in Kapande’s area of work.
Kapande knew exactly where the lion was dragging its dead prey…into the safety of the thick lava forest, which is almost completely impenetrable for humans so lions feel it is a safe area.
Kapande followed the drag marks for about 300 metres before he reached the end of the trail and the beginning of the lava rocks where the forest begins. He now had to predict where the lion had stashed its kill. With his excellent instincts, he climbed across the rocks and through the forest – straight up to the kill, a baby giraffe, which was hidden deep in the lava, well out of sight of any scavengers. Here he is showing us what remains of the baby giraffe.
He found a massive hole in the giraffe’s head from where Kasayio had clamped his teeth in and dragged it for a quarter of a kilometre.
The giraffe was probably only a few days old, but Kapande was happy that the lion had found wild prey to kill instead of attacking the local communities’ livestock. He went on to warn some local herders to stay away from the area, as Kasayio was around, to reduce the chances of any livestock getting attacked by him.
This was just another typical day for Kapande, using his skills to successfully locate lion evidence and reducing conflict with his community. Good work Kapande!