In February, researchers conducted a 10-day census of carnivores in the ecosystems of Amboseli and Kilimanjaro National Parks on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. The African Wildlife Fund, Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania Wildlife Division are working together to collect information on a number of large carnivore species living in this region of East Africa.

The main reason for this survey is to provide baseline information to set up a long-term monitoring program for large carnivore populations. The animals researchers are studying include lions, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, leopards and wild dogs.

The hope of the census is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the populations of these animals. Recent droughts caused populations of zebra, elephant, wildebeest and buffalo to drop dramatically, which led to a decline of the food source for carnivores in the area. Already Kenya's lion population has been dropping at a steady rate of about 100 lions per year for the past decade, leaving them with less than 2,000 individual cats. If nothing is done to conserve this species, they will not survive another 20 years in Kenya.

Lions are a crucial part of the ecosystem of this region, and human presence in the region can have a negative impact on the natural habitat. Recent shortages of the creatures' food sources could also create issues between carnivores and local people, which is one of the reasons why officials want to gain a better understanding of the size, location and habits of these carnivores.

The researchers will attract the carnivores they want to study by playing audio clips of lions roaring, hyena attacks and dying wildebeest cries. This tactic will allow them to determine how many of each species are living in the region as well as the distribution, age and sex of these populations.

Those who embark on small group travel to Africa can learn more about the importance of balance in an ecosystem. A Kenya and Tanzania safari offers nature travel enthusiasts a chance to see for themselves how a human presence is affecting the wildlife of the region. The ecotourism experience may also provide them with insight into how they can help conserve and protect wildlife regions like those found along the border of Tanzania and Kenya.

For the latest travel trends and exciting discoveries, visit our Kenya & Tanzania Safari Travel News section.