Sibiloi Carnivore Project – SCP

SCP, a colourful choice.

Sibiloi Carnivore Project- SCP
Sibiloi Carnivore Project- SCP

   Sibiloi Carnivore Project (SCP) is part of a larger research program under the umbrella of the Global Change and Conservation group (GCC), University of Helsinki, Finland. The project has been established in 2017 with the aim of identifying carnivore species abundances, their distribution and their population size in Sibiloi National Park (Kenya). The ultimate goal is to initiate a long-term carnivore monitoring program and to facilitate co-existence of local communities with carnivores.

Sibiloi National Park, also known as the ‘Cradle of Humankind’, is located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Turkana, Kenya. The area shows widespread symptoms of defaunation (local extinction), with mostly a handful of small to middle-size herbivore species remaining at low densities. Human activity has dramatically reduced the distribution and the population size of carnivores. Some of these symbolic species may have already gone extinct in the area, reflecting a catastrophic example of what is known as the ‘Empty Park Syndrome’. Nevertheless, there is currently little accurate information available as to the current status of the predators throughout the Sibiloi National Park.

In its first year, SCP identified 10 carnivore species in the Sibiloi National Park. Our surveys suggest that spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and Black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) are the most common mammalian carnivores in the park. Occasionally a few other carnivores were recognised such as African wildcat (Felis silvestris), Common genet (Genetta genetta), Common jackal (Canis aureus) and the near threatened (IUCN) Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena). Some primarily insectivorous species of the Order Carnivora, such as Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) and White-tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda) were also detected. Furthermore, the third member of the smallest of the existing hyenas in the area, Aardwolf (Proteles cristata), was detected in few locations. Finally, the identification of Caracal (Caracal caracal) was a sign of hope.

Predation of livestock has induced human-wildlife conflicts between carnivores and the local pastoralist communities. While the international importance of conserving large carnivores is clear, how to solve this local complex issue is less obvious.

SCP aims to:

  • Identify the number of carnivore species remaining in Sibiloi National Park.
  • Determine the abundance and the distribution of the Sibiloi carnivore species.
  • Understand and develop strategies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
  • Promote coexistence between carnivores and people in surrounding communities.