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MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

Assessment of the threat of metal exposure to lions (Panthera leo) in East Africa

Tildelt: kr 2,1 mill.

The lion population of East Africa is declining due to several reasons, and pollution listed as one of the current threats by IUCN. However, no data on exposure routes of pollution from mining on lions in East Africa are available and metal pollution in terrestrial ecosystems in East Africa is understudied. The current proposal aims to fill this gap by looking at both metal exposure in lions and their main prey close to mining areas and in reference areas away from suspected pollution. In addition, non-invasive sampling of fur will be assessed as biomonitoring tool for metal exposure. Finally, we will provide recommendations to local authorities and communicate our findings to local communities. This project will give me the opportunity to apply my previous knowledge on metal pollution in wildlife and to gain new expertise working in African ecosystems and with African communities, as well as gain new practical skills, such as sampling large carnivores. Furthermore, my supervisors at the Norwegian University of Science in Technology (NTNU) provide interdisciplinary expertise within ecotoxicology (Prof. Jaspers) and conservation ecology (Prof. Røskaft). LEOTHREAT’s main research question is: What are the main exposure routes for metals in East African lion populations? I hypothesize that lions inhabiting mining sites may be exposed to metals due to the ingestion of contaminated prey and water. The exposure to toxic metals may cause adverse effects on their health, thus contributing to population declines. Me and local collaborators will study metal exposure by sampling blood and fur from lions inhabiting areas close to mines as well as from lions ranging areas unsuspected to be contaminated.

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MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

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