Lions and Their Prey in Kenya's Maasai Mara

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Lions and Their Prey in Kenya's Maasai Mara

Can inventive livestock management bring balance between lions, other predators, and prey back to the Kenyan savanna?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Unlike many conservation efforts, this project is seeking a solution that embraces, rather than excludes, livestock production.

Herbivores like cattle, zebras, and species with more fragile populations help maintain a mix of trees and grasses on the savanna.

Large herbivores maintain savanna ecosystems by allowing both trees and grasses to thrive. Previous observations suggest that zebras frequently select areas where cattle have grazed. But can cattle actually attract zebras? The data you collect on herbivore abundance can help answer this question.

Researchers also already know that zebras are the most common lion meal. So the next question is: do lions and other predators that eat zebras hunt where these striped ungulates are most abundant, or where prey of all kinds is easiest to catch? If it’s the former, as these researchers suspect, lions should follow the zebras to those greener cattle pastures.

lions resting during the day in ol pejeta

Lions at rest

If the first two hypotheses turn out to be true—that zebras will follow cows and predators will follow zebras—one big question still remains. Will moving cattle strategically to attract zebras actually help the rarer herbivores survive? This could be possible: the declining species tend to congregate in smaller, more sedentary herds than zebras, which makes them easier to catch than zebras if they’re in all in the same area.

You can provide the observational power to discover how this experiment will actually unfold. Help be part of a strategy that could strengthen predators, prey, and the people of Kenya who depend on tourism and livestock.

About the research area

Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Kenya, Africa

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:



The Scientists


Chebet Ng’weno
Programme Director for the Mara Predator Conservation Programme

ABOUT Caroline Chebet Ng’weno

Dr. Caroline Chebet Ng’weno, was the Head of Research and Monitoring at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, having joined the organization in 2008 as Carnivore Program Officer. In 2018, Caroline joined theKenya Wildlife trust as Program Director of the Mara Predator Conservation Programme (MPCP), where she managed the merge of the flagship Mara Lion and Mara Cheetah Projects into one consolidated program. In 2019, Caroline will transition to become faculty at the Kenyan University, where she will mentor emerging wildlife biologists. Caroline will also continue her research on predator prey dynamics at Olare Motorogi Conservancy with support from Earthwatch volunteers. Caroline brings both robust scientific credentials and a holistic view of how science can, and must be applied for practical conservation success, in both protected areas and human-occupied landscapes.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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