The Chyulu connection

By Eric Ole Kesoi, Lion Guardians Community Manager

For the last 13 years, Lion Guardians have been monitoring lions in the Amboseli ecosystem so closely that we have come to know individual lions and their lineage. In studying the lions, we have also learned the critical importance of open spaces and the wildlife corridors that link them. These spaces provide areas for dispersing young males, who crisscross the landscape, vying with each other for females and territory, in the process, diversifying the gene pool. Selenkay Conservancy and the Chyulu Hills are one example of the role of open spaces in the life of lions.  

Selenkay Conservancy is one of the most important conservation areas in the greater Amboseli ecosystem which offers refuge to this iconic species. The original lions of Selenkay, among them Lomunyak and Nosieki, mated with a group of females we call the Selenkay sisters from Amboseli National Park. When Lomunyak disappeared into the Chyulu Hills, Selenkay and company followed him all the way to Olosina and even Olbli, escaping a drought. When the drought broke, they returned from the Chyulus, bringing with them a male called Ndelie. Ndelie stayed in Selenkay until he was deposed and replaced by Sikiria and Oyaipai.

Gurme and Lormesasu from Chyulu were the next to arrive in Selenkay. They were driven out by Nenkukuo Keli and his cohort, who took over some of their females. The constant and rich supply of new blood from the Chyulu Hills to Selenkay Conservancy is key to the lion populations there.

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