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Big Cats & other predators

Twenty years ago, Laikipia’s ranchers viewed predators in a very negative light, as they killed livestock. More recently, as tourism has gained in importance, new ways of protecting domestic animals, including lion-proof ‘bomas’, have been developed. A more tolerant attitude has seen predator numbers rise markedly. Traditional ‘bomas’ – enclosures where cattle are secured at night – are made from thorn branches. When lions jumped into these bomas, the frightened cattle would break out into the surrounding bush, where the lions could kill them at will. Lion-proof bomas are made from steel tubing to prevent such breakouts, while the lions, for their part, dislike confinement in a small space with a herd of terrified cattle. Widely in use on commercial ranches, the new bomas are being introduced to communal areas as well.

 

The status of Africa’s lions, now increasingly restricted to national parks and reserves, is the subject of pressing global concern. So Laikipia, as one of only a few unprotected areas where lion numbers are increasing, is seen as especially important. There may now be as many as 350 lions in the ecosystem.

 

Other large and medium-sized predators found in Laikipia include the Leopard, the Cheetah, the Serval, the Caracal, the African Wild Cat, the Striped Hyaena and the Spotted Hyaena. While related to the hyaenas, the Aardwolf – seen from time to time – is not strictly a predator, as it feeds on termites. Present too but seldom encountered are the Honey Badger, a voracious predator of beehives, and the African Civet, which often finds its way into chicken coops.

     
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