mara meru leopard project
As with the Cheetah programme, RWF aims to support Mara Meru with an expansion research program that will enable Dr Elena and her team to initiate and manage research on African Leopard in the two designated areas using the same principles that have formed the basis of the cheetah research program. Although Leopard is not under immediate threat as a protected species, only due to their adverse nature, there is very little accredited research available on the species topography range as well as their numbers in these areas.
Despite the fact that the Kenya Wildlife Service encourages studying leopards in the country, African leopard subspecies is the only one out of 9 subspecies which is widely spread across Africa. The major threat to leopards across its range is a loss of habitat, reduction of the prey base and conflict with people for livestock predation. In the Mara, there are two important aspects that have to be taken into consideration when conducting leopard research.
1) Leopards are well protected in the Reserve and are not persecuted by the locals and do not need special actions for protecting them.
2) In the areas adjacent to the Reserve, where Maasai settlements and temporary bomas (enclosures for livestock) are built, there is a high level of conflict with these predators because of the predation on the livestock, leading to the killing of these predators.
There are two reasons for it: growing human population and fencing the areas, which lead to the reduction of the leopard habitat,
and poor management of the bomas. Therefore, in the Mara, studying these predators we have to include protected and not protected areas.
One of the most important and effective tools of conservation is education. To help protect the animals both livestock and predator, we have started conservation education programs in the local schools with providing kids with the wildlife educational colouring book we designed together with the Laikipians. Once we educate the youth on the importance of wildlife preservation, and in particular predator conservation, they will understand the essence and take forward the message to elders in the community which will ultimately lead to less conflict with predators.