Lion Guardians Receives International Honor



Amboseli, Kenya – Dr. Leela Hazzah, Co-founder and Executive Director of Lion Guardians, has been selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero of 2014, making her the only wildlife conservationist working in Africa to ever receive this honor.

Lion Guardians is turning once lion killers into lion protectors. By combining science with local knowledge and cultural values, Lion Guardians has been able to nearly eliminate lion killing in the areas it operates since 2007, and it has documented a near tripling of the lion population at its core site in Amboseli, Kenya. Lion Guardians, which has expanded across borders into Tanzania, covers an area almost five times the size of New York City, and is helping local communities save millions of dollars each year by avoiding livestock conflicts with predators.

“I know we are making a difference,” says Dr. Hazzah. “We never imagined when we first started Lion Guardians that we could transform these killers to the point where they would risk their own lives to stop other people from killing lions, but that is exactly what has happened” she explains.

Sixty years ago, there were probably half a million lions in Africa and today it is estimated that less than 30,000 remain. “I don’t think that many people truly understands the urgency of this situation,” says Dr. Hazzah.

Dr. Hazzah and the Lion Guardians team hope that recognition as a Top 10 CNN Hero will bring attention to the plight of the lion, and more importantly, to what can be done to help them.

About Dr. Leela Hazzah

Dr. Leela Hazzah has spent more than a decade working in the conservation field in East Africa. Her doctorate and masters research focused on understanding the predictors and motivations behind lion killing in the Amboseli ecosystem. This led to the people-centered conservation model of Lion Guardians, which she co-founded in 2007.

About Lion Guardians

Lion Guardians is a conservation organization dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist across Kenya and Tanzania. Lion Guardians currently trains and supports a team of more than 70 East Africans who are actively protecting lions covering approximately 5,500 sq. kms (1.3 million acres). We are committed to workable solutions that are scientifically-driven.


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