Q&A with Shivani Bhalla, founder of Ewaso Lions

Naramat’s cub. Photo taken in 2019 by Shivani

Over to Shivani.

1. Your favourite animal?

Dogs! Both wild and domestic.

2. Why? 

I have grown up with dogs. Always loved them and have two of my own – Kura and Nanyori. Wild dogs are amazing to watch – and we are so lucky to have them in Samburu considering how rare and few in numbers they are.

3. What’s your usual day like?

Shivani Bhalla founder of Ewaso Lions at Westgate Conservancy inSamburu with Samburu women and elders. Facebook Ewaso Lions

Never the same. Between driving around and finding wildlife, visiting villages, staying in camp working on my laptop and spending time with my team and dogs – there is no dull day.

I also find the lions solitary nature and how they survive alone, especially considering they are known as a social cat, intriguing.

Ewaso Lions is monitoring up to 50 lions.

4. How many lions are there in northern Kenya now?

Unsure of approximate numbers until surveys are complete.

5. How has the population changed since 2000 and now?

Results will be published by KWS later in 2020.

6. Will the numbers increase?

Warrior Watch scout monitoring – Ewaso Lions

Only if communities are involved in lion conservation and if lions have sufficient space, prey and security.

7. What are the main concerns?

Habitat loss, lack of prey, climate change. These are the concerns for lions.

However, concerns for conservation. There is lack of collaboration, inclusion, diversity and equality. And there are few women in the field and webinairs. This is the time to change it.

8. How did you get the local community involved?

Munteli of Mama Simba driving on patrol

From Day 1 – by living outside the park near villages, engaging and hiring from the local communities and encouraging them to take ownership over the project and the lions and the landscape, including making decisions related to anything in conservation.

Key community programmes such as Warrior Watch and Mama Simba were created by the warriors and women themselves.

Nashipai the beautiful one in Samburu language was the first lioness Ewaso Lions followed in Samburu Natioal Park until her death in 2017

9. How tall are you?

Not sure how this is relevant!  I like this quote “If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito,” Anita Roddick (founder of Body Shop the iconic brand of cosmetics not tested on animals in which shaped the advent of ethical consumerism in the 1970s).

Just to let you know: Shivani’s about 5 foot tall! A standing lion is about 6 feet tall.

10. And you collar lions that are how big?

My team collars the lions now – they have become experts!!!

11. Your hope for the future?

A stable lion population that has sufficient prey and space, where the communities continue to make conservation (not just of lions) a way of their life.

A world, a landscape that is more collaborative, diverse, inclusive and equal (in so many ways).

Adult female is Nanai. by Shivani

Read: Kenya: Counting Samburu’s vanishing lions

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