Local women were eager to get involved in conservation, so they approached us for conservation training and education. Now, Ewaso Lions is working with Samburu women in a number of ways through our new programme, Mama Simba – which means Mothers of Lions.
Samburu women have rarely been actively included in conservation activities in northern Kenya. Yet, they spend a significant amount of time in wildlife areas as their demanding lifestyle includes fetching water, collecting firewood, and looking after livestock at times, which means they often come in contact with wildlife. And because women remain in the villages for much of the time while warriors and elders are away, they deal with human-wildlife conflict firsthand when carnivores attack livestock inside villages at night.
Education for Women
We started a women’s education initiative in August 2013 with 10 women from the Sasaab village in Westgate Conservancy. The women are learning how to read, and do arithmetic. This education helps them in many activities, such as livestock trade, beadwork, and food businesses.
Ewaso Lions aims to reduce carnivore attacks on livestock, eliminate retaliatory killings of carnivores, and improve attitudes towards wildlife. We work with women to reinforce their bomas (livestock enclosures) and test experimental predator deterrents at villages where livestock loss to carnivores is high. As the women continue to learn how to read and write, it will be easier for them to monitor the deterrents and record results.
New Beadwork Enterprise
Samburu women have exceptional skill when it comes to traditional beadwork. We are working with a group of women to make beaded animals, which is a new concept in the area, and is a promising new attraction for the tourism market.
Plastic shopping bags litter the landscape and get ingested by wildlife. Women buy sugar, tea, and maize from local shops that always package items in plastic bags, which are then usually discarded. Ewaso Lions organizes clean up campaigns in local communities and started a trade-in programme. For each woman that collected trash, we provided a reusable tote bag for shopping. In February, 212 women helped clean up 2,221 plastic containers and 15,922 pieces of plastic litter, which we then sent for recycling.
Conservation Training and Safaris
Women in our area have extremely limited exposure to conservation issues. Ewaso Lions provides workshops for women on the importance of conservation, identifying wildlife by their tracks, and safe herding practices. In addition, we take women on game drives into the National Reserve, so they can enjoy wildlife up-close and safely.