Fairend Safaris

Lion Tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Lion tracking is done in Queen Elizabeth National Park which is the most visited park in Uganda. This park is located in the western part of the country. It is a park with a great and stunning landscape comprised of savannah grasslands, woodlands, crater lakes, forests, and the Rwenzori mountains in the background. Tracking lions involves taking a closer look at them and learning about their behavior, way of living, and social life. Importantly, it is more of a research activity that is supervised by the research department of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Lions that are tracked usually have radio collars which are used by researchers to track and monitor their movements. This activity is mainly done in Kasenyi plains where lions roam freely, tracking these predators gives hope on how to sustain tourism and learn more about how to preserve these species for future generations. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the only park in Uganda that offers lion tracking. Thus, this activity is open to tourists interested in experimental and research purposes.

How Lion tracking is done in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Lion tracking has mainly two sessions a day, the first in the morning and the other in the evening/night. Each session usually lasts for about two to three hours and involves learning about the behaviors, feeding habits, and social dynamics of lions. The study can be made on either a single/individual lion or on a group of lions.

Travelers/researchers are required to arrive on time and have a briefing which is led by the chief tracker or researcher. He or she gives a briefing about the activity and what to expect before getting into the vehicle to go search for the lions. Due to advanced technology, the lions are easily tracked to where they are at a particular point with the help of the radios which are usually put on the neck of lionesses. The main reason for using lionesses is that they do not wander away from a group. They tend to stay in groups to protect their cubs, be able to have successful hunts and get protection from alpha males.

To participate in lion tracking one needs to book in advance and pay USD 100 foreign nonresidents while residents pay USD 80 and 100,000 Ugx for East African citizens. There is a restriction on the number of people who participate in lion tracking. Guides usually do not want to stress the lions. Booking should always be made in advance to the Mweya Information Centre. Alternatively if interested and living abroad you may contact a tour operator to book on your behalf.

How do researchers get close to the lions during tracking?

Researchers use a tranquilizer that they inject on a lioness, only those that are not pregnant, old enough, and healthy. These lionesses are usually wearing collars around their necks, which are fixed well to ensure the animal is comfortable. Additionally, the other reason is that the lioness does not get stuck in case it passes through thick vegetation. The collars are usually powered by batteries which send radio frequencies to determine where they can be found. When the lion is close the tracking device makes a beeping sound which keeps increasing as you get closer.

Which area is lion tracking done in Queen Elizabeth National Park?

Lion tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park is primarily done in two main areas namely Kasenyi plains and Ishasha sector. The Kasenyi Plains are located in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park and are well known for their high concentration of lions. Most of the lion families that are tracked are found within this area. The vast open plains make it easier to spot lions and other wildlife from a distance. The Ishasha Sector is situated in the southern part of the park and is famous for its population of tree-climbing lions. These lions can often be found resting on the branches of fig trees during the day.

The best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for lion tracking

The best time to track lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park is during the dry season when vegetation is thinner. In addition, water sources are scarce during this period forcing lions and other species to congregate around remaining water sources. It is generally easier to spot lions during this time since they are more active. The dry season occurs in June, July, September, December, January and February.

Some of the rules and regulations to follow when tracking lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

When tracking lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park it is essential to adhere to the rules and guidelines to ensure the safety of both visitors and wildlife. Some of these include;

  1. Never attempt to track lions on your own, always be in the company of a trained guide or researcher. A certified guide is knowledgeable about the behavior of lions and the park’s terrain.
  2. Always remain calm, quiet, and patient. Remember lions are very sensitive to noise and may be irritated or frightened by noise or loud sounds.
  3. Stay in the vehicle at all times unless instructed otherwise by the guide or ranger. This is to ensure the safety of both the lions and the tourists.
  4. It is essential to always maintain a safe distance and respect the lions’ space. Do not approach them too closely or attempt to feed them.
  5. Do not litter in the park, this could harm the wildlife. The park must be kept clean by properly disposing of any waste or trash.
  6. Lastly, lions are unpredictable, and encounters in the wild can sometimes be intense. Be mentally prepared for any situation and always follow instructions.