Wheels on the Ground Needed for Tanzania Lion Project

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Researchers survey lion tracks in Serengeti National Park

SCI Foundation needs your help to fund a high priority project need! A research vehicle with the Tanzania Lion Project recently suffered a mechanical failure in the field, leaving the project short a vehicle and causing the researchers to alter their survey methods. Importing replacement parts and repairing this Land Rover will take some time, meaning a new vehicle is needed immediately to continue this important research on the Serengeti plains.

The current methods for estimating lion abundance are imprecise. The goal of the Tanzania Lion Project is to improve survey methods to allow consistent and accurate lion abundance estimation within the Serengeti National Park study area. This project is a game changer, ensuring that management of the African lion is based on science, and helping to put SCI Foundation front and center in the lion research community.

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A male lion takes down a bull Cape Buffalo

Researchers from the Carnivore Ecology Laboratory at Mississippi State University and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute have recently completed the first phase of the project, yielding improvements on the study design. Preliminary analysis of the data suggests this study will produce the most accurate lion population survey methods that are cost effective and applicable to large areas. The resulting model will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The project’s two existing Land Rovers run 18 hours a day during the field season, operating over rugged terrain to complete this important work. These vehicles are maintained daily by project personnel and serviced weekly by a competent mechanic. Unfortunately, replacement parts need to be imported to repair the broken vehicle, and it will take weeks to fix properly. The most intense period of field research is fast approaching this summer, and our people on-the-ground need a third working vehicle to ensure that the research is not inhibited by the temporary loss of one vehicle.

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A lioness eyes the horizon for prey

An ideal vehicle, a 2005 Land Rover Defender, 5 door 4×4, 300tdi, has been found in Tanzania and is available for purchase. The 300tdi is commonly used for fieldwork and safari travel because of its durability, power and familiarity to local mechanics. The project’s full time mechanic has inspected the vehicle on site and confirmed that the engine, transmission, frame and body are all in excellent condition. Purchasing costs, not including off-road retrofitting, bring the price to approximately $25,000 USD.

We need you and SCI members to help sponsor this high priority project need! DONATE now to put wheels on the ground and help scientists better assess the status of lions in the wild! The sponsoring group or individual will be formally recognized in SCI Foundation publications and communications on this project. Sponsors will also be recognized with logos on the Land Rover’s doors.

DONATE now by visiting our website or contact us for more information. SCI Foundation thanks you for your support!

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Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more SCI Foundation news.

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