In July 2022 I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya with a group of people supporting LionAid.
LionAid are engaging in a challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in July this year, with a 14-person
team named “Lion Hearts”, to support lion conservation work and in particular to start a crucially
important community project in Merrueshi, Kenya.
We estimate there to be less than 10,000 lions left in the wild. Acting NOW is paramount to saving this species. One of the main threats to lions is human/wildlife conflict. When livestock are killed, farmers retaliate by killing the predators, which can be disastrous to already fragile lion populations.
1. We need to to assist the Amboseli Maasai to make their livestock enclosures predator proof and to develop an Insurance herd to mitigate these retaliation killings. The project consists of upgrading bomas (enclosures where livestock are kept overnight to protect them from predators). Participating households donate livestock in return for the kit to upgrade their bomas. The donated livestock becomes “an insurance herd “kept within the community and from which the farmers can withdraw animals to compensate for any livestock losses from predation.
This unique and sustainable programme to prevent predator depredation was formulated through LionAid meetings with Maasai Tribe Elders who conceived this concept. An initial investment in this innovative, locally applicable and community supported project will require no further financial input once the seed money has been distributed. This community-derived compensation scheme is hoped to be an effective substitute to counter the continuing frustration with existing compensation programmes which require regular injections of further funding.
2. The boma protection scheme will also provide solar panels and lights inside homes. This will lead to a marked improvement of the lives and livelihoods of this rural community, and have a positive impact on human poverty.
3. The project will seek to improve the local primary school in various ways. For example, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Merrueshi community, and especially the school, have no such access. While Kenya recognizes that statutory free primary education is crucial to national development, this does not translate well to areas of existing rural poverty. We intend to provide the school with a borehole to ensure access to drinking water and sanitation. The current lack of such basic provisions means that children, especially girls, don’t attend.
4. Part of the funds raised will go to improve a community primary school where the 400 girls and boys are facing a hard life academically. We aim to provide better toilet facilities, two additional classrooms and maybe even a school lunch programme if sufficient funds are raised to encourage children back into school.
In addition –
The Merrueshi community is eager to continue to provide a safe wildlife corridor for animals seasonally dispersing out of Amboseli National Park. Safe corridors are becoming ever more crucial in Kenya to allow a diversity of species to migrate between wet and dry season ranges. The Merrueshi community is eager to maintain such corridors on their land to facilitate a nascent tourism venture. Maintenance of any such corridor will require future discussions with the community and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
By linking welfare of this community to wildlife conservation – improved survival of livestock, schools, better living conditions – the community will better accept a diverse wildlife community on their land – including predators.