Kenya - Supported since 2013

For the past few years the Kenya Wildlife Trust (KWT) has been increasingly concerned by the status of the Maasai Mara’s lion population. As it currently stands, the Kenya Wildlife Service estimates that there are fewer than 2,000 lions left in the country today, with an annual decline of 100 lions. Increasing human populations, coupled with diminishing natural prey and habitats has brought lions into close proximity with people. The Greater Mara Ecosystem represents a unique study area where lions, prey, people and livestock exist at very high densities and the extent to which they co-exist is largely unknown.

The KWT has therefore recently formed the Mara Lion Project in order to establish lion numbers across this ecosystem in addition to identifying and mitigating the threats facing the population. The project has “science driving conservation” at its heart and its members are currently developing research questions to better understand the Mara lions. Led by Project Director and new senior scientist, Dr. Nic Elliot, the Mara Lion Project will become a new entity for practical applied research and the conservation of lions across the Mara conservancies. Despite being one of the best known ecosystems, and indeed lion populations, on earth, there has been no long-term, in-depth research on the lion population. Nic is hoping to apply his skills in modelling movement, connectivity and dispersal to investigate movement within the Greater Mara Ecosystem in an effort to understand when and why lions leave the wildlife areas.

The Mara Lion Project will continue the conservation-oriented research on lion numbers and ecology from the KWT Mara Naboiso Lion Project but will expand this to cover in and around the existing Mara conservancies, eventually expanding to include the reserve and the new conservancies being formed to the east and south. MLP will be working closely with the Maasai communities to initiate a wide scale programme to reduce conflicts and the subsequent killing of lions. MLP will also be working alongside KWT’s new Mara Cheetah Project.



One of Africa’s most recognised animals and yet one of the most threatened, the African lion population has almost halved in the last three decades and continues to decline. In 1980 there were an estimated 75,000 lions, while today there are approximately 35,000 free ranging lions. They went extinct in 26 countries. East Africa represents a crucial region for the lions’ persistence as it currently holds around 57% of Africa’s remaining lions. Established by the Kenya Wildlife Trust, the main aim of the Mara Lion Project is to sustainably conserve lions throughout the Greater Mara Ecosystem.

Project Goals:

Determine the current status of lions in the Mara
Identify the major threats that could be causing declines in the current lion population
Mitigate threats against lions wherever possible

Lion Fast Facts
Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Protection Status: Vulnerable
(in West and Central Africa they are now classified as “Endangered”)
Global population: 35,000 (approx.)
Distribution: Sub-Saharan Africa

African Lion Characteristics
Lions are the second largest living cats after tigers
Only male lions have manes
Head and body: 1.4 to 2 m
Tail: 67 to 100 cm
Weight: 120 to 191kg