Conservation programs that take into consideration the well-being and interests of the people that live with the big cats have the most chance of succeeding. In the past, there has been a conservation versus them approach and people were even removed from their homes as protected areas were off limits to local people. Projects that work with local people and give them an incentive to save the big cats have a much better chance of success. Here are three big cat conservation projects that help humans too.
Lion Guardians Promotes Coexistence between People and Lions
One of my favorite organizations is the Lion Guardians. This community based conservation program is bringing hope for the survival of the African Lion. I hope you will take time to watch the amazing video that was created to help bring more awareness and support for this amazing project.
The Lion Guardians Mission is:
To promote sustainable coexistence between people and lion using cultural values, community participation and science.
The Lion Guardians program was initiated in 2006 by the Living with Lions project and the local communities, and was set into motion in collaboration with Maasailand Preservation Trust in January 2007 on Mbirikani Group Ranch in the Amboseli Ecosystem
The African Lion needs our help.
Hope for Lions through Protection
Some of you might remember when we talked about The African Lion Hope through Protection last year. If so, you might remember that on March 1, 2011, an alliance of wildlife protection and conservation groups petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list the African lion as an endangered subspecies pursuant to the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). These groups included Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, The Fund for Animals, Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
The USA is the world’s largest importer of sport-hunted African Lion trophies
The United States is the world’s largest importer of African lion parts, for hunting trophies and for commercial use. From 1999 and 2008, 7090 lions from a wild source were traded internationally for recreational hunting purposes. Most of these lions, 64% of the total, were imported to the United States. Even though there has been a continuous population and range decline for the lion, the United States lion trophy imports have increased. Imports in 2008 were larger than any other year in the decade and twice the 1999 number. The Endangered Species Listing would make a significant difference to crackdown the trophy trade. A listing under the ESA would put strict controls on the import of lion “trophies” by Americans, and would ban the commercial trade of lion parts in the United States.
African Lions are the ONLY big cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act!
On November 26, 2012, the U.S. government issued a favorable finding that a listing may be warranted, but before making a final decision, they’ve allowed for a 60 day public comment period. They want to hear from you. African lions are the only big cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Take Action! Please add your signature and comment in favor of the ESA listing for the African Lion now!
The Story of Sikiria
Last year we posted a survey about African lions and asked you to tell us which lion caught your eye and why. For those of you that participated in the survey, you might remember the short story of Sikiria that was part of the survey question.
Here is the excerpt from the survey:
The Lion Guardians have been extraordinarily successful at stopping lion killing. This program is one of the first in East Africa that combines traditional knowledge with modern scientific techniques.
In order to learn more about the African lion, a radio collar is attached to track each lion’s movement. Once a lion is given a collar, the Lion Guardians give the lion a Maasai name.
The names usually reference either a physical characteristic or a behavior unique to that particular lion. For example, one lion was given the name Sikiria, which means “he of the donkey”. This name was given to him because he liked to eat donkeys. This name and telling of stories about him helps diffuse the anger and retaliation from the Maasai when Sikiria goes looking for a donkey. Now watchful eyes can keep Sikiria out of trouble and the donkeys safe by relaying messages about Sikiria’s location. It is also much easier to forgive behavior when you know the name of the lion and their unique traits.
The Lion Guardians named him “he of the donkeys”
Happy New Year!
In 2011, we threw out making resolutions and decided that in 2012 we wanted to focus on gratitude. One of the things we are grateful for are stories of positive change, of hope and of a spirit that remind each and every one of us that changes, however small can and do make a difference. The Maasai and The Lion Guardians are a shining example of how an idea sparked change and is bringing hope for the African Lion.
Friends, did you know that you can identify a lion from the whisker spots that are found in rows on each side of the face? We learned that we can also identify a male lion by his mane in our post Lion Guardians Give Each Lion a Maasai Name, but a mane can change throughout the lion’s life depending upon age and health. Only the whisker spots remain unchanged throughout a lion’s life.