New cubs born in Waza NP and in Benoue NP
Lion guards active under the Large Carnivore Initiative, funded by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative and Prins Bernhard Nature Fund have reported new born cubs both in Waza National park and in Bénoué National Park.
In Waza NP the population of lions has been estimated at around 14-21 lions and lion guards now have reported that they have observed at least two groups of lions with cubs in the park; one group near the water point of Mbilé with 3 adults and 2 cubs, one group near the water point of Takawa with 3 adults and one group near the water point of Niwadji with 5 adults and 3 cubs. This suggests that recently at least 5 cubs have been born in Waza NP, in spite of the low lion numbers observed and the very low heterozygosity suggested for this population.
However the lion guards also reported that lion human conflict are still very intense, in the past weeks lions have killed almost 10 cows and 2 horses near the village of Mbilé alone. Local people also suggest that the number of lions has increased.
Lion guards in Bénoué NP also reported at least three new born cubs observed near the parks headquarters Buffle Noir, situated at the Bénoué river.
In Bouba Ndjidda national park a lioness was reported, which was killed by the steel snare. This was probably an accidental kill by poachers targeting other large mammals, but it is worrying that lions are now also caught by snares and the parks guards will step up their anti poaching patrols in the coming weeks.
The observations by lion guards confirm that the national parks in Cameroon still provide protection to lions and allow reproduction, in spite of the low number of lions remaining. While the lion numbers in Waza NP in the Extreme North Province have been estimated to be 14-21 lions, a recent publication suggested that lion numbers in the national parks and hunting zones of the North Province have dropped significantly. The previous estimate of 200 lions is therefore no more valid and a number of between 120-150 lions remaining seems more realistic. The Minister of MINFOF, mr Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, has recently retired during a cabinet reshuffle and LCI will step up its efforts to have a dialogue with the new Minister and his advisors on the need to conserve lions and other large carnivores as “healthy ecosystem ambassadors” in the North of Cameroon.