(TANZANIA / WILDAID) - A new strategic partnership between WildAid, Fair Trade Safaris and KopeLion addresses this crisis by working with local communities
Most people around the world are not aware that lions and other predator species currently face a major crisis. The lion population worldwide has plummeted 43% in the past two decades, and only about 20,000 remain across Africa. Habitat loss, bush-meat poaching, and human-predator conflict – primarily with local herders that share their land and livestock grazing areas with the lions’ habitat – are the main reasons for this sharp and worrisome trend.
Today, lions occupy just 8% of their historical range, and extensive habitat loss is likely to continue as Africa’s human population grows from 1.2 billion currently to 2.47 billion in 2050, as estimated by the United Nations. For lions to survive, it is crucial to find ways for them to co-exist with human communities in Africa’s remaining savannah habitats.
There is now some promising hope for the lion prides that are found in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Local non-governmental organization KopeLion, Korongoro People’s Lion Initiative, is working with Maasai communities to better protect their livestock, to improve livestock husbandry, and to find innovative methods for harmonious human-predator co-existence.
By training local Maasai warriors as ilchokutis, lion protectors, KopeLion is able to inform local livestock herders of the lions’ real-time location, and how to avoid them. Moreover, in the unfortunate event of a lion attack, the ilchokutis also administer veterinary care for harmed livestock, thereby building more favorable attitudes of the local herders towards the lions.
The ilchokutis go further by using their communications skills and relationships within the tribal communities to resolve human-predator conflicts, thereby preventing retaliatory killing of the big cats by the herdsmen. Using these effective grass-roots techniques, these diligent ilchokutis help to protect the lion population on a daily basis, especially during the dry season when human-predator conflict is at its most severe.
photo courtesy of WildAid
While KopeLion is already working in 12 communities with an ilchokuti in each, the organization plans to expand the project in order to achieve complete coverage of a corridor between Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, an area that forms a critical portion of the lions’ habitat in Northern Tanzania. KopeLion will also provide innovative and effective conservation methods in the area between Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tarangire National Park.
To help continue the lion conservation program in Ngorongoro, as well as to support expansion, WildAid and Fair Trade Safaris have partnered up to support KopeLion’s ground-breaking and results-producing initiatives. Fair Trade Safaris has made an initial financial contribution for KopeLion’s first year of operations, as well as a commitment to help expand the project alongside WildAid.
In the next few months, KopeLion will train four new ilchokutis while continuing patrols and community engagement in a total of 16 community zones. This will provide protection to several lions, leopards, cheetahs and even hyenas.
As part of Fair Trade Safaris’ efforts to increase support to this pioneering conservation effort, the company is organizing a wildlife photographic safari trip in August 2018 to visit the Ngorongoro area, Tarangire National Park, and to experience the splendor of Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration. All proceeds from the safari trip will go to the KopeLion project. Please consider joining this amazing adventure. More information available via this web link.
Fair Trade Safaris partners with a wide range of community based organizations in the continent of Africa and in the United States – including nonprofits such as WildAid, SOS Children’s Village, and Rotary International. Fair Trade Safaris is the only luxury travel company that donates 100% of its profits back to wildlife conservation and local community development in Africa. Fair Trade Safaris combines leisure travel with philanthropy to create fully immersive experiences. It is simple, by selecting to visit Africa with Fair Trade Safaris, guests make a tremendous contribution to conserving wildlife and to improving communities in Africa and in the U.S.
photo courtesy of WildAid