In the wild lands of northern Kenya, people must live alongside predators, the biggest of which is the lion. This is one of the only places in Africa where lions exist outside protected areas, and with only 2,000 lions left in Kenya, the region serves as an important habitat for the big cats.
The northern Kenyan people are primarily pastoralists who raise sheep, goats and cows. Lions come into regular conflict with people when they attack livestock, and herders retaliate with guns, spears or poison.
The Ewaso Lions team believes that the key to saving lions in northern Kenya lies in involving local people in conservation. Therefore, the heart of their work is in the communities that surround Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves. Ewaso Lions’ community outreach and education programs engage local people in conservation, provide training, find creative solutions to human-wildlife conflict and give back to the community.
"We definitely need parks, but most areas are too small for lions and they get into trouble when they move beyond them. Working with lions on community-run land is important for their conservation."
- Shivani Bhalla
A Unique Conservation Approach
Samburu warriors are young men on their way to becoming junior elders in their society. They spend more time in wildlife areas than anyone but have never before been involved in conservation. Ewaso Lions trains warriors to collect data on wildlife sightings, respond to community issues and become wildlife ambassadors in their community in exchange for educational lessons in topics such as English.
Lion Watch strengthens collaboration between the tourism community and conservationists. Ewaso Lions trains safari guides to become experts on lion identification and ecology, allowing them to share the stories of local lions to provide a richer experience for their guests. Tourists and guides participate in research and conservation by uploading lion photos to an online database that adds to Ewaso Lions’ monitoring and research.
Ewaso Lions helps local children learn about wildlife by starting Wildlife Clubs in schools and bringing Wildlife Cinema to rural villages. Their Lion Kids Camp is a multi-day camp for local children, many of whom have never been inside the nearby reserves. The Camp includes wildlife education, game drives, drama competitions, and fun to create an overall life-changing wildlife experience.
Incidents of human-wildlife conflict responded to by Ewaso Lions in the past two years
Percentage increase in local lion population since 2007, from 11 lions to 40 lions
Shivani, a fourth-generation Kenyan, grew up seeing the majestic wildlife of her country on family safaris. These early trips sparked a devotion to Kenya’s wild animals, and Shivani is now a Kenyan conservation biologist who has lived and worked in the Samburu district for over eight years.
Shivani got her start in conservation working with WCN Partner Save the Elephants, where she promoted environmental education programs among schools and students in Samburu. She went on to receive a WCN scholarship for her PhD work at Oxford.
Ewaso Lions, the project that Shivani founded, has grown into an impactful and efficient start-up conservation organization with a devoted staff made up almost entirely of local Kenyans.
How You Can Help
$100 will pay for a GPS unit for a Samburu warrior to collect data on wildlife sightings, human-predator conflict and illegal activities like poaching.
At Ewaso Lions’ field camp, there is no Internet so they must drive to the nearest lodge just to email. $2,500 will help buy a dish for V-SAT Internet.
A donation of any amount can contribute to scholarships that pay tuition for promising local secondary students who have the potential to be future conservation leaders.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
Meet Jeneria Lekilelei, a young Samburu warrior who comes from the Sasaab location in Westgate Community Conservancy, Samburu, Kenya. Jeneria started working with Ewaso Lions in 2008 as a Lion Scout and has since taken a substantial leadership role in his current position as Field Operation