Friday, February 27, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Lion Guardians

I learned about today's Feel Good Friday organization by checking out the 2014 CNN Heroes. A lot of inspiring people and today we're going to talk about Leela Huzzah, the founder and executive director of Lion Guardians.

When I traveled to East Africa, I saw lions but I had no idea how lucky I was. The Lion Guardians website states that "In the last 50 years, an estimated 50% of Africa's lions have disappeared."

Lion Guardians is doing something about it. As they explain on their Facebook page, "Lion Guardians is a conservation organization that promotes the coexistence of people and lions. Our more than 70 conservationists, biologists and local leaders work in collaboration with pastoralist communities to protect lions over 4,500 square kilometers (over one million acres) of prime lion habitat across Kenya and Tanzania."

So what does that mean in practical terms? Since 2007 they have recruited Maasai warriors (for whom it is a point of pride to kill a lion) and trained them to track and monitor lions in Kenya and Tanzania. They also provide the guardians with literacy training, conflict resolution training (to deal with farmers who kill lions to protect their cattle herds) and data collection techniques. Not only do the guardians track lions but they also find lost livestock and lost herders.

Lion Guardians attributes their success to collaboration with local communities and using indigenous knowledge in combination with conservation science to determine the best ways for people and lions to coexist. They also provide project management training for others interested in starting a similar organization.

You can get a great summary of Lion Guardians by watching the CNN Hero video about Leela Huzzah and keep current by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @lionguardians

Seeing lions in their natural environment is a fabulous experience and thanks to the work of Lion Guardians, when you travel to Africa, you'll be able to see lions too!

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