A lioness walks in grass in golden light

Lion Conservation

Once widespread across Africa and Asia, lions have been in decline for many years. Habitat loss and fragmentation, reduced numbers of prey and increasing conflict with people are all threatening the survival of this iconic African animal.

Born Free is committed to protecting lions and their habitats, and to enabling them to coexist safely alongside people.

We monitor lions, reduce conflict and engage communities across two key areas in Kenya – Amboseli and Meru – to safeguard Kenya’s lions for the future.

This work is primarily focused on promoting coexistence between people and lions by reducing conflict and helping secure and diversify sustainable livelihoods.






LOCATION: Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya, East Africa.

GOAL: To reduce human-carnivore conflict and promote coexistence between people and carnivores.

THREATS: Carnivores, including lions, predate livestock kept by the Maasai in the Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya. This Born Free-run programme seeks to address this issue of conflict.

Livestock are central to pastoralists’ livelihoods, so losing them to predation can have a significant economic, social and psychological impact. This can result in pastoralists retaliating by killing lions. Retaliatory killings have been high in Amboseli, with an average of 18 lions a year killed between 2001 and 2006.

Lions and other carnivores are also highly threatened by habitat loss, due to agriculture and settlements. This resulted in the lion population declining to only around 50 individuals in 2006.

Thanks to conservation efforts, retaliatory killings have been kept low and the lion population has been slowly recovering. However, with numbers of both lions and people increasing, and climate change adding extra pressure, conservation initiatives are vital.

ACTIONS: The Pride of Amboseli programme tackles conflict by constructing predator-proof bomas (PPBs). PPBs comprise of strong posts (6ft [1.8m] from the ground), strong doors and rolls of chain-link fencing. PPBs are effective in barring not only lions but also other predators such as hyenas and cheetahs from gaining access to livestock at night.

A group of cattle are encircled by a circular fence, creating a predator-proof boma

Predator-Proof Boma in Amboseli © Born Free

Since 2010, we have built nearly 400 predator-proof bomas across several community-managed group ranches adjacent to Kenya’s famous Amboseli National Park, and in the West Kilimanjaro area across the border in Tanzania. Our cost-sharing approach means that Maasai pastoralists contribute towards the cost of the materials needed for strengthening their traditional thorn enclosures (bomas) and provide labour to help with construction.

The predator-proof bomas are also fitted out with smart elements – water-storage units, solar lighting and energy saving stoves (called jikos). These increase sustainability and help improve the livelihoods of boma owners:

  • the solar lighting units reduce kerosene consumption and improves air quality inside homes
  • smart elements reduce boma owners’ reliance on natural resources – the jikos use less firewood, preserving trees and securing wildlife habitat
  • the water storage tanks are a lifeline in an arid and drought prone region

Demand is high and priority is given to individuals in the areas of highest predator conflict. Help is given to pastoralist families who are waiting for a predator-proof boma by providing the smart elements.

One predator-proof boma can accommodate, on average, up to 800 cattle and 400 sheep or goats.

Thousands of people and tens of thousands of cattle, sheep and goats are now better protected as a result of this programme.



LOCATION: Meru Conservation Area, Kenya, East Africa.

GOAL: To reduce human-carnivore conflict and promote coexistence between people and carnivores.

THREATS: The lions of Meru are at threat from human-carnivore conflict. Carnivores are attacking and killing livestock kept by pastoralists in the Meru Conservation Area and people then engage in retaliatory killings, particularly of lions.

Conflict hotspots occur in areas where people have livestock-based livelihoods and are living either in, or adjacent to, lion habitats. Lions are also highly threatened by loss of habitat and prey, as expansion for agriculture and settlements continue rapidly. Effective conservation solutions must be introduced, especially in collaboration with local communities and with the participation of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

ACTIONS: This Born Free-run initiative monitors the lion population of Meru National Park and works with communities surrounding the protected area to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

A member of Born Free's Pride of Meru team leans out of a truck pointing at something in the distance, a photographer points a camera in the same direction

Pride of Meru team in the field © Born Free

In 2016, Born Free and the Kenya Wildlife Service conducted a survey to estimate the size of the lion population. The survey estimated as many as 79 lions may be living in or around Meru.

This forms an important baseline for monitoring the population as conservation actions continue. Born Free now has years of extensive and detailed lion monitoring data of the prides in Meru National Park and continues to survey the population.

The Pride of Meru team have been trialling simple, low-cost conflict mitigation strategies, to prevent livestock predation by lions and other carnivores.

By reducing the predation by carnivores, we can increase tolerance of lions by communities, and enable people and Meru’s lion population to coexist.

This work goes hand-in-hand with conservation education initiatives that aim to improve attitudes such as ‘Kick to Conserve’, where football tournaments are accompanied by conservation messaging.

We have also employed a team of Conservation Ambassadors from communities around Meru National Park. The Conservation Ambassadors act as the voice of the community, helping pastoralists report and resolve conflicts and implement solutions. Our initiatives also aim to tackle some of the challenges that communities face, such as poverty, lack of access to services and poor education.

A lion cub rubs its head against the face of an adult female lion lying on the ground

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