Murchison Falls National Park covers an area of 3,840km2. It is located in North-Western Uganda and spreads from the shores of Lake Albert, around the Victoria Nile, up to Karuma Falls. The northern section contains savannah and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland while the south is dominated by woodland and forest patches. Kidepo Valley National Park is 1442km2 with altitude ranges between 914m and 2750m A.S.L. Found in North Eastern Uganda, it is the most isolated park that lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya. It contains two rivers-Kidepo and Narus which are seasonal. The pastoral karimojong people form part of the local communities around this park.
Currently, biodiversity and wildlife resources especially the big game are threatened by many factors including: agricultural extension into natural habitats, charcoal and firewood collection, infrastructure development and mining, poaching and wildlife trafficking and overexploitation. The African lion (Panthera leo) is cartegorised as vulnerable under the IUCN Red list of threatened species 2016. As noted by Bauer H. et. al., 2016, the African range lions meet the criteria for being classified as Endangered with an estimated decline rate of over 50%. It is therefore important to monitor the distribution and ranging patterns of these big game so as to conserve them. The project is looking at two main areas:
1. Determining the migration patterns of the big game both in and outside the National Park.
2. Determining the ranging patterns of lions both in and outside the National Parks.
The activities include use of Camera traps placed on trees and in thickets well disguised and secured. The cameras provide information on the animals’ social structure, numbers, behavioural patterns, seasonality and preferences in the different locations.
The use of radio telemetry in carnivores provide information on their movement, social structure, reproduction, mortality rates and their causes and the feeding ecology.
The monitoring is supported by internally sourced funds at Ecological Trends Alliance and the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF).