Friday, March 13, 2009

US NGO helps protect lions in Kenya

APA-Jackson (USA) A Kenya-based United States organisation, Living with Lions, is involved in protecting African lions in collaboration with the local East African population.

Spurred on by American academics and researchers, "Living with Lions" started many lions surveillance and protection programmes, including training lion-hunters into becoming their defenders.

Brigades are trained to identify hordes of lions with radio collars. The organisation equips each local agent with a cell phone.

Local volunteers are also in charge of investigating cases of livestock decimated by lions and offer monetary compensations to affected cattle breeders. This is meant to discourage cattle breeders from killing the lions or continuing cultural practices which go against ecosystem protection.

For example, the Maasai people of Kenya have an ancient initiation rite called "Murran" during which they kill a lion with a spear, to prove one’s manhood and enter the adult world.

It is revealed that efforts have been made for people to create vigilante and protection brigades called "Maasai Murran”.

The US organisation has developed numerous conservation projects in Kenya such as that of Kilimanjaro (south) with the Maasai people.

According to the initiators of this program, the lion population is diminishing in some areas of Kenya particularly because of the difficult cohabitation with the pastoralists and their livestock.

Wildlife experts believe that the African lion population is steadily decreasing, some even saying that there are currently less than 30,000 lions in Africa i.e. an alarming disappearance of around 90% over the past two decades.



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