Africa's Kidepo Valley gives lion population hope

6th Nov 2013

Wildlife-loving tourists on tailor-made holidays should book now to see Africa's magnificent lions - with some areas providing grounds for optimism on the species' future.

The hope comes in the shape of Uganda's Kidepo Valley National Park, which has a growing lion population for holidaymakers on group tours to enjoy in its 1,442 sq km (557 sq mile) area.

This rugged savannah, overlooked by the 2,750-metre (9,020ft) Mount Morungole, is situated in the Karamoia region in the north-east of the country.

The park has seen lion numbers jump from 58 to 132 over the past 10 years.

Besides the big cats, Kidepo offers tourists 86 mammals, including 26 species found nowhere else in Uganda.

It also boasts 463 species of birds, second only to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Attractions include black-back jackal, African hunting dogs, bat-eared foxes, striped hyenas and cheetahs.

Uganda's lion population has dropped substantially in other regions in the same period however, according to new research.

It has dwindled by 30% and is on the "verge of disappearing", according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of St Andrews.

The primary reasons behind this are human-lion conflicts.

These include poisoning, loss of habitat and retaliation of livestock deaths.

Lion populations have plunged by 30% and 60% respectively in two of the parks studied, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.

Using information gleaned from Uganda's three leading national parks, a guestimate was made indicating the total lion population had fallen by almost 200 animals.

James Deutsch, executive director of WCS' Africa Program, said: "Conservation areas, such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls, which formerly contained the highest biomass of mammals on Earth, depend on the delicate balance between predators and prey."

The findings were published in the new edition of conservation journal Oryx.

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