After several fact finding missions aimed at exploring the possibilities of expanding into Tanzania, we now are hoping to finalize everything in the next few months. With funding from Panthera, the Lion Guardian program is ready to start around Ngorongoro Conservation area on a pilot basis and we will work closely with Serengeti Lion Project in the area. Several meetings with our colleagues have been successful and there is even the possibility of an expansion to the Maasai Steppe as well.
One critical area has been along the Kenyan-Tanzanian boundary. The Kenyan side of the border had experienced about 16 lion killings before last year. We expanded to that area in September 2010 and since that time no lions have been killed. Our Lion Guardians worked closely with other stakeholders within the Amboseli ecosystem and did a commendable job. The problem is that everything changes the second lions cross over the border into Tanzania. A single depredation incident is enough to justify a hunt. Unfortunately, the majority of these hunts have been successful. In the last year alone, about five lions from the Amboseli ecosystem have been killed just across the border in Tanzania.
Recently, we held a very well attended cross-border meeting with all the major stakeholders including government officials from both sides and everything looked bright. We again held a follow-up workshop, both sides were in attendance. Several recommendations were made and time –lines were issued. Just when all was looking good, one of Tato’s male lions was killed in Tanzania in a retaliatory attack!
A few days ago, our Director Dr.Leela Hazzah and Luke Mamaai visited Sinya on the Tanzanian side where they were warmly received by community leaders who are keen to embrace the Lion Guardian program. While there, they gathered some facts about the area and the possible collaboration stakeholders and returned very excited and eager to start. At this point we are only awaiting the official invitation and permission from TAWIRI, the Tanzanian governmental branch in-charge of wildlife. Once permission is granted, everything else will fall into place.
Lion Guardians need your help in bringing the Tanzania expansion to fruition. Help us by making a donation now so we can continue to successfully mitigate human-carnivore conflict in high risk zones, such as Tanzania.