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King of beasts losing ground in Uganda's paradise
Date:10/24/2013

Overall, the call station surveys attracted a total of 66 lions, 176 spotted hyenas, and seven leopards. The broadcasts also attracted a host of smaller predators, including side-striped jackals, black-backed jackals, white-tailed mongooses, and large spotted genets.

Using the data of animals observed, the analysis generated an estimated lion population of 408 animals in the three main strongholds for lions in Uganda, nearly two hundred fewer lions than estimates made in 2000-2002 (a statistical decrease of more than 30 percent). In Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, estimated lion numbers have decreased from 206 to 144 over the past decade (a 30 percent drop). In Murchison Falls Conservation Area, the team estimates a nearly 60 percent drop (from 324 to 132 lions in the past decade). Only in Kidepo Valley National Park did the researchers detect an increase in estimated lion numbers (climbing from 58 to 132).

"Lions are the species tourists most want to see in Uganda's savannas according to research by WCS. Surveys of tourists have shown that they would be 50% less likely to visit the parks in Uganda if they couldn't see lions, and if they did visit they would want to pay less for the experience. As an industry that generates more foreign currency in the country than any other business this could have significant consequences for Uganda" reported Dr. Andrew Plumptre, WCS's Director for the Albertine Rift.

The study also represents the first survey of hyena numbers from these areas, generating a population estimate of 324 hyenas (the researchers suspectbut cannot prove hyenas to be in decline as well).

"Conservation areas such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls, which formerly contained the highest biomass of mammals on Earth, depend on the delicate balance between predators and prey," said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS's Africa Program. "Their loss would permanently alter two of Africa's great ecosystems.
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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