Expansions in top gear!
We are very excited that all of the ground work for our expansions into the Ruaha and Sinya areas of Tanzania are now bearing fruits. Earlier this year, we hosted a group of Barabaig community leaders from the Ruaha ecosystem in central Tanzania on an exchange visit to Kenya. They interacted with our Lion Guardians and the Amboseli community members who have partnered with the program over the past 6 years ; they went back very excited and eager to start a Lion Guardians program in Ruaha. After their return, they held community meetings throughout their territory to describe the program to their peers using their own words. The meetings resulted with the community giving us the blessing to go ahead and start the program. Within a week of our arrival, we were able to interview and select five new Lion Guardians. They are currently undergoing training by two of our best Lion Guardians who traveled to Ruaha from Amboseli; so far the news is encouraging.
In West Kilimanjaro, Sinya area, the process began with a meeting of the area leaders which was attended by all zonal representatives and their community Chairman, as well as the traditional chiefs. They then convened several community meetings, all of which gave us the final blessings to start the initial process in this conflict prone area. In fact, I have just returned from there, leaving behind two of our team members who are conducting interviews for potential Lion Guardians. The final selection will be done soon and the results announced in a community meeting. Soon thereafter, the training of the selected Lion Guardians will begin.
West Kilimanjaro is a very important area if the Amboseli lion population is to be protected; many of the lions that frequent Amboseli cross into the Tanzania border and are often killed in retaliation as a result of human-wildlife conflict. In fact, a lion was recently killed there in early September 2012, just a few days before we started community engagement.
We believe that the the presence of Lion Guardians in this area will greatly reduce the incidences of human-wildlife conflict, thereby preserving the life of these precioius few remaining lions. Please help contribute to the success of these noble expansion plans by helping us fund the costs of getting these new sites up and running. Your support helps us cover cost such as the salaries of the Lion Guardians and their equipment. It also helps us pay for important field costs such as phone airtime, vehicle fuel, maintenance and repair, which are all imperative to the effective operation of the progam.