Our project manager Luke Maamai recounts his journey with Lion Guardians.
It was in 2008, when my journey with Lion Guardians begun. I had no idea then that the rampant killing of lions could be controlled. There were so many reasons why people were killing lions – retaliation, traditional rite of passage, political motivations and trade for parts; it felt an impossible task to tackle. But now I know that it is in fact possible.
My first task at Lion Guardians was very specific, I collected data on lion mortality and interviewed the past lion killers in the ecosystem. And it brought home to me that lion killing was real and happening within our communities because there was little to no mechanism in place that could increase people’s tolerance towards lions. With the knowledge I gained from all the research, I fully understood the lion killers in the ecosystem and this helped me as I took on the role of Lion Guardians’ Program Manager. Over the years, I developed my skills and tactics of handling different hunting groups, dealing with irate community members, using data and benefits to motivate Guardians and communities to be more tolerant towards lions. My toolkit included literacy training, employment, community development and emergency assistance for the local communities.
During my journey with Lion Guardians, my hopes have grown with each passing year. When I started, there were few lions and a lot of killing. Now there are many more lions than I could have ever anticipated. The community members have increased their tolerance level towards lion conservation and they are even helping us name lions as part of their families.
I would like to take this moment to thank our supporters and collaborators for their contributions towards conservation success in our ecosystem. Because of all of you, we have great hope that lions will remain in their natural homes for the current and future generation to see.
As I continue on my journey, I always hold this quote close to my heart – “Meyek Olenkaina ilala lenyena” which literally translated means the elephant does not get tired of its tusk but the deeper meaning is one carries his burden without flinching.