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A voluntary citizen science approach was used in a pilot study of the relict population of the Critically Endangered western African Lion Panthera leo in Niokolo-Koba National Park (NKNP) in Senegal. In total, 93 observations involving 253 lion sightings were made by NKNP guides and their clients over a period of four and a half years in the central tourist area of the Park which represents about 3% of the total area of NKNP. Identification sheets were produced for 10 individual lions on the basis of whisker spot patterns measured from photographs contributed by the tourists. Although we were not able to identify a sufficient number of individual lions to estimate the lion population in the zone, extensive data on the geographic distribution, age-class and sex, and behaviour of the observed lions are presented. Data are also presented to tentatively support a relationship between the annual variations in lion observations and the total rainfall in the preceding year. The advantages of this citizen science approach in terms of complementing mainstream science, as well as in promoting tourism development and conservation sensitisation, are discussed, and recommendations are made for pursuing this cooperative effort at a higher level of effectiveness.
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