Samburu morans, the warrior age-class, make up one of the most neglected groups of people in conservation management in Samburu. These young men spend more time in wildlife areas than anyone else in the community, yet are rarely involved in decision-making with respect to wildlife conservation. To address this gap, Ewaso Lions founded the Warrior Watch programme in early 2010.
Warrior Watch is the first programme in northern Kenya to actively involve warriors in wildlife conservation. The overall goal of Warrior Watch is to promote human-predator coexistence, reduce human-wildlife conflict, build capacity, and increase awareness of the importance of wildlife to the local area by engaging morans in the process.
Why It Helps
Ewaso Lions strongly believes that capacity building at the local level is an essential component of conservation, and that success in wildlife conservation depends on the involvement of local people. By engaging these Warriors, we instill positive attitudes towards wildlife and emphasize the importance of lions and predators. In turn, the Warriors spread the conservation message to other morans in their communities.
Traditional Samburu morans do not attend school, and spend the majority of their time outside the village, thus serving as the “eyes and ears” in the bush. Through Warrior Watch, Ewaso Lions effectively taps into this resource to expand the scope of our research, and gives these young men an opportunity to obtain some essential education in return. With the help of the Warriors, we have a better idea of wildlife numbers and distribution over a wider area and on a much larger scale than we could before.
How It Works
Ewaso Lions, in partnership with Westgate Community Conservancy, selected warriors from Westgate and neighboring Mpus Katuk Conservancy to participate in the programme. As of July 2012, the programme has 16 active Warriors.
Warriors receive training on basic wildlife ecology, conservation, communication, security issues, and the value of wildlife. Over time, Warriors are trained in data collection and use GPS, allowing us to map wildlife sightings throughout the Conservancy.
Each week, the Warriors meet as a group with Ewaso Lions staff to report on wildlife sightings, incidents of human-wildlife conflict (poaching, predation, etc.), community awareness meetings, and livestock issues. In turn, Warriors receive lessons in English and Kiswahili, as well as a small monthly food stipend and meals during the weekly meetings.
In the coming months, we hope to add more Warriors to the programme and continue to expand this network of conservationists. We are also evaluating the programme to improve Warrior Watch going forward and to make sure it is the best it can be. Through Warrior Watch, we are hopeful that wildlife will have a secure future among the local people in this part of Kenya.