Collaring Naughty Noldupai

Since 2004, our focus has been on mitigating conflict brought on by a small percentage of lions that account for the majority of livestock depredations. We refer to these lions as ‘chronic problem lions.’ One way to keep track of these troublesome lions is by collaring them. But collars are expensive and we need real-time information to proactively stop attack before they occur. For these reasons, in 2021, in partnership with Technology for Conservation (T4C), we designed a new tracking system using LoRaWAN collars and mobile gateways near conflict hotspots. Placing mobile LoRaWAN gateways and collars fitted with LoRa tags allows us to track conflict-prone lions by providing an early warning system. This system enhances our team’s ability to respond swiftly to lions entering high-risk areas and proactively mitigate conflicts. Below we tell the story of collaring one of the oldest females within our operating area – Noldupai.

Lioness Noldupai, known for her naughty habits, was first collared by our monitoring team 7 years ago. Having Noldupai collared over the years has saved her life and the lives of other lions. In 2023, her entire pride narrowly survived a poisoning incident. Thanks to the team having the ability to track Noldupai, the team could mobilize, get to the scene, and administer life saving treatment in time to save her and her entire prides’ lives. 

In early 2024, Noldupai’s collar expired. The monitoring team took this as an opportunity to fit her with a new LoRaWAN collar and test our new technology. The process of fitting Noldupai with a new collar required a huge coordinated effort from our teams. Guardians worked for weeks around the clock trying to locate Noldupai across the ecosystem. Luckily, in February, the opportunity to collar Noldupai with a vet nearby to support the process arose. The day of the collaring, the team tracked her on foot until midday. When they eventually got a visual on her the vet prepared the anesthesia to be injected, but much to the team’s frustration and surprise, when all was ready, Noldupai had disappeared! The team began a lengthy search on foot. After hours of searching and with the sun going down and about to set, the team decided to call it for the day and return to camp. 

While returning to a camp, a miracle occurred. Noldupai was insite. The team jumped into action, administered the anesthesia, removed her old collar and safely replaced it with a new LoRaWAN collar. Thanks to Noldupai’s new collar, now our monitoring team receives real time detailed tracking information on her whereabouts directly to their smartphones. This means that Guardians can track Noldupai around the ecosystem using their smartphones, as opposed to needing to return to collect information on her whereabouts at the Lion Guardians camp headquarters. A huge congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication. Thanks to their hard work we can prevent Noldupai from doing anything naughty!

Guardians, a vet, and Eric from our Senior Management Team collaring Noldupai.

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