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  • Jamie Thom

The Lion Guardians - Saving East Africa's Lions

As a safari company, we are pro-active and support conservation initiatives and effective organizations that are focused on authentic wildlife conservation ventures. Having had many years of first-hand guiding and field experience, we understand the true needs in conservation, and how to channel support to the resources affecting positive change in these areas. The best way that wildlife and wild places will be preserved is through expanding areas under formal protection and these need to be funded by successful tourism initiatives. Here we salute one such successful initiative in Tanzania:

In Maasai culture, the Maasai warriors, or Murrans are tasked with defending all those in their community, and Guardians embody this role – they protect people, livestock, and now also lions! We know that lion distribution has shrunk by about 80% from its African range – even more alarming, their numbers have declined about 50% in the last 20 years. They're extremely difficult to count, but the latest estimate is that there are only about 35,000 lions left in all of Africa. This is a very serious problem that requires unique conservation approaches. The decline is mostly due to habitat loss; unsustainable trophy hunting, poaching of lion prey for bush meat; poachers’ snares that catch lions by mistake and displacement of lion prey by livestock, leading to more lion / human conflict. Given the complexities of this challenge, lion conservation is a delicate exercise and requires very specialised programs.

One program that has been very successful, is the Maasai Lion Guardians program in East Africa. Lion Guardians is a conservation organisation dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist across Kenya and Tanzania. The program currently trains and supports a team of more than 80 East Africans, mostly Maasai warriors, who are actively protecting lions, centering around the national park regions of Tarangire, Amboseli, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

The Lion Guardians’ conservation model involves recruiting young Maasai and other pastoralist warriors to learn the skills needed to effectively mitigate conflicts between people and wildlife, monitor lion populations, and help their own communities live with lions. By actively engaging in their solutions-based conservation model, people who were once lion killers are transformed into lion protectors.

The program employs people to reinforce livestock shelters, recover livestock and stopping hunts of lions. The guardians are trained in radiotelemetry and GPS use, can track lions on a daily basis and know their whereabouts to avert the lions and prevent attacks on livestock. The program is succeeding thus far, we have seen lion killings decrease and populations growing (triple in the Amboseli/Tsavo region).

Read more and support the program at

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