Africa

Tribal warriors are protecting lions in Tanzania

Published 9:28 PM ET, Wed April 20, 2022
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The Barabaig tribe in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania traditionally hunted lions that endangered their community -- but with populations of the big cat dwindling, Barabaig warriors have become their protectors. Daudi Petro/Lion Landscapes
Tanzania is home to roughly 50% of the lion population in sub-Saharan Africa, and around 800 of those lions live in Ruaha National Park. Lion Landscapes
Many people in sub-Saharan Africa live in conflict with lions. Both the livelihoods and lives of pastoral communities can be threatened by these big cats. Ami Vitale
With lion populations categorized as vulnerable, warriors from the Barabaig tribe in Tanzania, and also tribal communities in Kenya, are working with conservation group Lion Landscapes to track the big cats to protect them and mitigate the danger to their human neighbors. Pictured here are three of Lion Landscapes' "Lion Rangers" in Laikipia, Kenya. Ami Vitale
In Ruaha National Park, warriors working with Lion Landscapes are known as "Lion Defenders." The role is usually given to young hunters with good knowledge of the area and a comprehensive understanding of lion behavior and how to track them. Baldon Mdegellah/Lion Landscapes
There are 18 Lion Defenders in Ruaha. They monitor local lion populations and help to implement safe herding practices and fortify livestock enclosures. Lion Landscapes
Lion Landscapes also provides technology to improve the safety of tribal communities as lion populations recover. Here, a conservation officer shows the workings of an alarm to be fixed to a boma, a traditional fortified fence. Ami Vitale
Tracking and monitoring the big cats through smartphones helps the lion populations to grow without increased risk to tribespeople. Ami Vitale
Lion Landscapes says that with its support, tribal communities have built stronger structures, improved lion monitoring techniques, and adopted better practices to ensure the safety of people and livestock. Ami Vitale
According to Lion Landscapes, since it began its work the killing of lions has decreased by more than 70% in the area of Ruaha National Park in which it operates. Josephat Mdegellah/Lion Landscapes