Maasai Olympics – The hunt for medals not for lions

  • Focal species: Lion
  • Secondary species: cheetah, Elephants, Hyaena, Wild dogs
  • Countries: Kenya
  • Name of organisation: Big Life Foundation
  • Support requested:
    contributions for specific items >1000 euro,
    contributions to running of project <1000 euro
  • Does this project benefit local people through employment and/or capacity building: yes
  • Does this project benefit local people in other ways: A large part of this new approach of changing human behaviour towards conservation and offering alternative ways of life. More and more Massai people are now trained as ambassadors of wildlife and teachers for conservation. As the whole 2 Million acre ecosystem is playground for the Maasai Olympics participants, a large number of new jobs was created, with focus on the field of education. But the biggest benefit clearly lies in the fact that the Maasai found a suitable replacement for the lion hunting, enabling young man to compete as they did when hunting lions.

Project Description

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.

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