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Lion Queens and Kings: 

empowering local pastoralists as custodians against lion persecution in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Ecological Trends Alliance and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union. 


Uganda is home to an estimated 408 lions which are important to both Uganda’s national heritage and economy as major eco-tourist attractions. Near half (144) of Uganda’s lions are resident in Queen Elizabeth National Park (hereafter “Queen”). Although a stronghold for Uganda’s lion population, lions at Queen are imperilled by human persecution particularly in retaliation to livestock loss following lion depredation.

The human-lion conflict at Queen is heightened by human settlements in villages inside Queen (the “enclave” villages), which keep large heads of cattle for prestige and as an important economic activity. The most recent of lion persecution struck on April, 10th 2018, when 11 lions were poisoned to death by local pastoralists in retaliation to killing cattle. 

It is estimated that only 23,000-39,000 African Lions (Panthera leo) remain in the wild and populations remain in decline


The grantee’s conservation efforts are aimed to mitigate human persecution of lions by empowering local pastoralist communities to increase livestock safety from lion attacks, while decreasing lion livestock depredation and associated retaliatory killing by pastoralists.

This will include recruiting and training local pastoralists from four enclave villages where human-lion conflict is rife to become custodians of lion conservation (“the lion queens and kings”). This helps to leverage indigenous knowledge of protecting livestock against lion attacks and strengthening community lion conservation.

The following actions are designed to achieve this conservation objective:

1. Locally-recruited and employed “lion queens and kings” will protect livestock from lion attacks and monitor lion presence in the vicinity of livestock and human settlements.

2. Livestock watching by the lion queens and kings during the night time from sunset (08:30 hrs to dawn (18:30 hours), when lions are most active and most likely to attack livestock.

3. Actively engaging local communities in lion conservation by signing a memorandum of understanding with the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

4. By creating individual benefits such as formal employment and training, we believe that this project will be an important source of income and will improve local livelihood.


The lions at Queen are targeted and killed as either retaliatory persecution following livestock depredation by lions or to avert future lion attacks. If not stopped, we should anticipate near term local extinction of lions in Queen, as it has been the case in several protected areas in Africa.

The grantee will engage local pastoral communities in lion conservation, by empowering locally recuited and trained men and women to efficiently and effectively protect livestock from lion depredation. Community engagement and the accruing individual benefits such as formal employment will not only strengthen community based lion conservation, but will also improve local livelihood.  

IUCN Save our Species
European Union

With the support of IUCN Save our Species, co-funded by the European Union


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