Our Warrior Watch programme uses the conservation model of engaging local people in direct conservation efforts. We started Warrior Watch in Westgate Community Conservancy in 2010 to train Samburu warriors in lion conservation; we provide education in return. Through Warrior Watch, local warriors are becoming aware about the importance of keeping lions alive, and helping their own communities protect livestock from lion attacks to reduce retaliation against the big cats and other large carnivores.
Our vision is to help create a broad network of warriors across northern Kenya who work to promote human-lion coexistence. This network of warriors teaching their own communities about conservation will have a bigger and more far-ranging impact.
As part of this process, we work closely with other partner conservationists who also work with warriors. We can share lessons learned and work towards shared goals. Recently, we did an exchange with warriors who live in an area north of us in a place called Laisamis. These warriors are working with our partner the Grevy’s Zebra Trust.
The following is a brief report by our senior field officer, Jeneria Lekilelei, about the experience.
On the first day of the exchange, the Ewaso Lions warriors were very happy and excited to go visit the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) warriors in Laisamis. In 2012, the same warriors came to visit us and we worked with them on a training workshop for a few days and all of us became friends.
Our aim was to interact together and share knowledge and experience about working in conservation in different areas. We discussed many things such as the attitude of the local people towards conservation. They mentioned that people are still new to conservation. They also said that dealing with carnivore conflict is hard and protecting areas for wildlife is a challenge. Water availability for wildlife is a big problem too.
Reria, one of the Ewaso Lions warriors, said that when he first joined Ewaso Lions, the community thought he was a spy. Anytime he tried to speak about conservation, no one would listen to him, but he kept “singing” about conservation until everyone started coming to our meetings. We told them, “let us all sing and not be afraid.”
The second big challenge was about carnivores, and we discussed ways of how to reduce human-carnivore conflict while at the same time explaining about how carnivore numbers are very low and are facing many threats such as to habitat loss and killing of wild prey, which then forces the carnivores to go after livestock. We emphasised that you want to speak to the community and give an example of yourself, a livestock owner who still wants to conserve wildlife.
It was a wonderful trip where we all sang about conservation and we hope to have more trips and educational experiences for all warriors.
We thank everyone from the Grevy’s Zebra Trust for hosting us in Laisamis and for giving us this great opportunity. We hope to be able to see all the warriors again soon. Ashe Oleng.