Carnivore conservation

Estimating population sizes of lions Panthera leo and spotted hyaenas Crocuta crocuta in Uganda's savannah parks, using lure count methods

Edward Okot Omoyaa1, Tutilo Mudumbaa1, Stephen T. Bucklanda2, Paul Mulondoa1 and Andrew J. Plumptrea1 c1

a1 Wildlife Conservation Society, Albertine Rift Programme, Plot 802, Kiwafu Road, Kansanga, P.O. Box 7487, Kampala, Uganda.

a2 School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland


Despite > 60 years of conservation in Uganda's national parks the populations of lions and spotted hyaenas in these areas have never been estimated using a census method. Estimates for some sites have been extrapolated to other protected areas and educated guesses have been made but there has been nothing more definitive. We used a lure count analysis method of call-up counts to estimate populations of the lion Panthera leo and spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta in the parks where reasonable numbers of these species exist: Queen Elizabeth Protected Area, Murchison Falls Conservation Area and Kidepo Valley National Park. We estimated a total of 408 lions and 324 hyaenas for these three conservation areas. It is unlikely that other conservation areas in Uganda host > 10 lions or > 40 hyaenas. The Queen Elizabeth Protected Area had the largest populations of lions and hyaenas: 140 and 211, respectively. It is estimated that lion numbers have declined by 30% in this protected area since the late 1990s and there are increasing concerns for the long-term viability of both species in Uganda.

(Received October 12 2012)

(Revised November 20 2012)

(Accepted January 09 2013)

(Online publication October 24 2013)


  • Call-up census;
  • hyaenas;
  • lions;
  • lure count;
  • population estimation;
  • Uganda


c1 (Corresponding author) E-mail aplumptre@wcs.org