After the poisoning of Nosioki and her cub, there was a meeting yesterday in Matapato to discuss the incident. People were calm since the two suspects that had been arrested a few days prior were released on the eve of the meeting in a surprise move by KWS. Before the release the Group Ranch was furious, they didn’t know arrests were possible due to the fact that previously, 3 lions had been killed in this area with no arrests made. Therefore, they were very happy for the release. The elders from the Group Ranch where the suspects come from begged for forgiveness of the conservationists present ( MPT, Big Life Foundation, Lion Guardians, and KWS) while vowing such an incident will never take place again. They decried the act saying it was cowardly and has no place in the Maasai tradition, saying instead ’when a brave Maasai is annoyed he uses his spear’.
During the meeting, the elders revealed that a few months ago unbeknownst to us, they decided to set aside Osewan (a thicket full of different wildlife species) as a conservancy with an elected committee in order to receive an income. They invited several conservation stakeholders present (those mentioned above) to work closely with them to help increase levels of tolerance towards wildlife and to develope this fledgling conservancy still in its nascent stage. They announced to all and sundry that they will curse anyone who will use poisoning within their territory and will hand him over to the authorities for possible prosecution. Two District Wardens present also decried the use of poison and lion killing in the area in general.
Leaders from both Olgulului Group Ranch and Mailua Group Ranch were present in the well attended meeting that recognized the critical role and vigilance by the Lion Guardians in the field. This was a very good meeting considering the usual tempers that flare wherever the agenda is livestock-lion related. We left the meeting with mixed feelings, worried with the precedent that will be set by the sudden release of suspects but buoyed by the glimmer of hope that a conservancy will bring to the future of the area. Whether this will happen or not, only time will tell.