In the last 20 years alone, Africa’s lion population has plummeted by 30-50%. This reduction in the number of lions is mainly due to habitat loss and conflict with humans. The Ewaso Nyiro region of northern Kenya provides critical habitat for these big cats, but the lions there are also faced with the deadly battle of trying to co-exist with the area’s nomadic people. The rural herdsmen have grown to feel threatened by these predators, and in turn their animosity towards the lions has led to the fatal poisoning, shooting, and spearing of far too many of these animals.
In a brave effort to save the Ewaso lion population, a grassroots initiative known as Ewaso Lions was established in 2007 by Oxford PhD student and Kenyan local, Shivani Bhalla. By using science an education, Bhalla strives to lessen the locals’ fear of the lions and create a sense of value and admiration for these carnivores in order to secure their future. The research focuses on the demographics of the lion population, their habitat and prey (including the critically endangered Grevy zebra), and human interaction.
Ewaso Lions reaches out to local communities to raise awareness about ecological problems and solutions, offering strategies for reducing conflict with lions (particularly pertaining to the predation of livestock), and also uses visual educational materials to help redefine their relationship with lions in a positive light. Bhalla stakes the organization in conservation education, believing that changing the attitudes of local people regarding these felines will ultimately lead to the recovery of the entire African lion population.
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