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Zawadi (R) is following her mother Mparasaroi (L), the leader of the Mama Simba program, into conservation work. (Facebook/Ewaso Lions)

Mama Simba

Meet the remarkable women who live among lions

By WITW Staff on August 3, 2016

A Kenyan lion organization, Ewaso Lions, based in Samburu National Reserve, is empowering women to become actively engaged in local conservation work. The Mama Simba (“Mother of Lions”) project began after local women approached Ewaso Lions seeking education. “The women had seen how warriors in their community were being engaged in conservation through another of Ewaso Lions’s projects,” Heather Gurd, conservation manager at Ewaso Lions, told the BBC. “They were adamant that they could do just as good a job as the warriors if only they were given the chance.”

Samburu women spend a lot of time in wildlife areas, going about the tasks of firewood and water collection, and caring for livestock — and encountering lions — but were previously excluded from conservation work. Ewaso Lions has been working to assist local communities to find ways to coexist with the local wildlife — crucially supporting the imperiled lion population, that sometimes are hunted in retaliation for killing livestock.

Since its 2013 launch, more than 300 Samburu women have participated in the Mama Simba program, which also teaches basic literacy and numeracy, as well as beading as an additional means of generating income. As well as improving the lives of the women, it is improving the prospects for the lions. “I have changed as a result of the Mama Simba program,” said participant Lelengeju. “I now cannot accept people to kill lions.”

“Since joining the program, I have learned to love lions, unlike before,” said Letabare.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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