The Kwando Carnivore Project is based in the Zambezi Region of Namibia, which is central to the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), a mosaic landscape falling across the international borders of five countries. The KCP is a locally based project and focuses on applied research and conservation of large carnivores as well as human-carnivore conflict mitigation.. Our field work involves conducting regular surveys in protected areas in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and in adjacent conservancies with Community Game Guards to ensure that large carnivore populations are stable and/or to identify any conservation concerns. In addition we monitor specific species such as lions and in future wild dogs and spotted hyaenas to understand how they move through the human-dominated landscape and to identify conservation challenges. Our mitigation work involves building lion-proof kraals to protect cattle from lions and other large carnivores in areas that lie between national parks. The prevention of retaliatory killing of carnivores by communities for predating on livestock facilitates connectiviy for carnivores to disperse through human dominated landscapes and link with resident carnivore populations in protected areas within the immediate KAZA landscape. As the KCP is a small, locally based project, we achieve larger goals such as improving livelihoods of communities, habitat and wildlife corridor protection by linking with conservation partners such as Panthera, WWF in Namibia, WWF Germany, Ministry of Environment, Namibia Nature Foundation, Namibia Chamber of Environment and IRDNC.
For centuries the Maasai have practiced a traditional rite of passage to manhood: hunting and killing lions. Today, there are too many people and too few lions. Realising that the traditional Maasai way of reaching manhood will not have a future, the cultural “fathers” asked Big Life Foundation (BLF) to eliminate lion hunting from the Maasai culture.
In response, BLF partnered with the Maasai to conceive and raise funds for this first-ever Maasai Olympics, part of the larger initiative to help to shift the attitudes of the Maasai toward a commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation as a preferred way of life in the 21st century.
This larger initiative consisting of two parts, conservation education and sports.
In order to reach a large audience, a film was produced exclusively for this project and used to teach the young generation that lion killing is no longer culturally acceptable and must stop now, as must the killing of elephants and all wildlife species. Failure to follow the “path of conservation” and reap its economic benefits will result in an unsustainable future of the Maasai people.
Competition in sports starts at local level. The warriors receive basic sports training in six events and compete for selection to one of four teams across the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem.
At regional level, each team will compete in organized competitions against the other three villages.
At ecosystem-wide level, the highly important and most wanted Olympic Day is waiting. This highlight takes place before national and international media, celebrities, government officials, friends, family, and tourists. The four villages will compete for event medals, prizes, and for the overall winners a trophy and prized bull. Thousands of people attend.
Girls being the motivators behind warriors wanting to hunt lion, are also potential conservation advocates and are included in the education program and in two competitions at Olympics Day.