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Born Free USA Global Field Projects

Saving Lions in Kenya

Published 08/01/12
By David Manoa, programs officer, Born Free Kenya

Since the inception of Born Free’s exciting "lion-proof boma" project in 2010, a total of 60 bomas have been constructed. Community members throughout Kenya’s Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem have benefitted from enhanced protection for their livestock from predators such as lions, hyenas, cheetahs and jackals. These predators have, as a result, been spared from persecution by the Maasai communities.

To expand and enhance this successful project, and ensure more lions and other predators are protected, Born Free together with the Amboseli-Tsavo community members recently embarked on the construction of several more lion-proof bomas in areas identified as "hot spots" for conflict. In June, six lion-proof bomas were constructed at Inkoisuk, IIchura, Nasipa and Olagarrama villages in Imbirikani group ranch. This saw close to 6,000 livestock belonging to about 350 community members being protected from predation.

To ensure the success of this initiative and solidify community commitment to it, several community mobilisation meetings have also been conducted, with the latest series of meetings being held in villages in Kuku group ranch. The meetings entailed discussions on community ownership of the lion-proof bomas, living in harmony with wildlife and screening of the film "Living with Lions." The film is in the Maasai language and explains how to construct the bomas as well as the benefits of protecting wildlife to the community and the country at large.

"It is very important for people to sit down and exchange ideas on how to reduce conflict between wildlife and our community," says Kisimir Ole Moipai, a boma applicant from Olnguswa village. "For so many years, we have coexisted with wildlife, but of late, our land seem to be getting smaller and smaller, the rains are unpredictable and we continue to lose our livestock to drought and predators than many years back. As I have seen from my village mates who already have better bomas, my siblings and I are in the process of soliciting funds to cost share with Born Free to upgrade our boma."

Faced with the challenge of the imminent graduation of 1,000 Maasai into Moran-hood warriors (an age set of young Maasai men who traditionally live in isolation in for varying lengths of time in order to develop strength, courage and endurance and traditionally provide security to the community) in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, Born Free and Masaai Wilderness and Conservation Trust (MWCT) have joined forces to engage with the chiefs of morans to help deter the cultural practice of lion killing as a show of bravery and as a means of attaining a high status in the community.

We are confident that a combination of community education and lion-proof bomas will go a long way towards helping to secure the future of the region’s lion population.

Read updates about our lion-proof boma project.

See the lion-proof boma project's photo gallery.

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