Africa News blog

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Life with the lions

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Kenya’s Maasai warriors are known for being fearless lion killers but times have changed and the country’s lion’s population is in danger of being wiped out. Now the Maasai in southern Kenya are taking part in an initiative to preserve the big cats.

For thousands of years the Maasai co-existed with huge herds of wildlife. Their lion-killing rituals kept down the number of lions preying on the game while their fearsome reputation as warriors kept the herds safe from other humans. The result, Kenya’s wildlife heritage is a wonder of the modern world.

But Kenya’s lions, a huge tourist attraction, are being decimated. From tens of thousands, only around 2,000 survive.

Lion researcher Amy Howard told Reuters Africa Journal that Maasai are now being recruited as Lion Guardians: “The problems are that these lions are coming into bomas, they’re attacking livestock, goats and cows and the communities are getting angry about this. In the past they used to go out on hunting parties and try and kill the lions in revenge and also as a rite of passage for the warriors.

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