Monday, July 13, 2009

Lion Guardians

It always makes me happy to hear about human and animal populations cooperating rather than competing. So when I heard about Lion Guardians, I was totally stoked.

Two lion guardians working together

Lion Guardians is a program to turn the enemy of lions (humans, esp. farmers) into their champions and protectors. According to their website:
The impetus to create this project was in response to the slaughtering of over 150 lions in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem since 2001. Retaliatory and traditional spearing by Maasai warriors (murrans) is the greatest threat to the survival of lions in Kenyan Maasailand today. The Lion Guardians program attempts to reduce the pressure on lions by employing their greatest enemy to conserve them rather than kill them. Since the onset of this project there have been no lions speared on Mbirikani ranch.

The Guardians have two major duties:

1) to monitor lions and other carnivore movements, and so to protect them

2) to aid their communities in various ways.

Specifically by:

  • informing herders to avoid high-conflict grazing areas (where carnivores are present)
  • improving livestock kraals (bomas)
  • helping herders find lost livestock that are left out in the bush (and subsequently killed by predators)
  • educating communities about carnivore importance and conservation
  • and lastly, but most importantly, Lion Guardians work with other murrans in the community to prevent further lion killings (both tradition and retaliation killings).
Also, each Guardian has learned how to track collared lions using telemetry receivers. Each lion that has been collared since the start of the project has been given a Maasai name by the Guardian(s) who helped with the collaring.
I've been following their activities for a while now and the most exciting thing I've read about so far is the discovery of a pregnant lion, which was collared and named "Nosieki" after a bush with beautiful red berries.
The lion guardian who found and named Nosieki with her

She is the first lion to be collared in many months.

From tracking Nosieki (who now has had 3 cubs!), the Guardians then found three more lionesses, one of which they were able to collar.

They named her Selenkay, which means a girl who has reached maturity.

According to the Lion Guardian blog, "It is not often that a warrior gets to touch a ‘live’ lion and these murrans told us they will remember this moment for the rest of their lives."

Related posts:
Giving Nature a Helping Hand
Photographic Philanthropy: Blue Earth Alliance
For the Birds

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1 comment:

Helby said...

That sounds like a great program. Thanks for introducing me!