Locals Rally to End Lion Killings

Worldwide, lions encounter a slew of mounting dangers, from habitat destruction to hunting. In many pockets of Africa, lions are killed for preying on poorly protected livestock, but in Katavi National Park in Western Tanzania, lions are hunted as a result of cultural exploitation and manipulation. The traditions of the Sukuma, agro-pastoralists who now live around Katavi, reward those who kill lions in response to livestock loss. Although lions in the area aren't killing livestock, these traditional rewards are incentivizing some people to illegally hunt lions within park limits simply for economic gain.

Conservation biologist and National Geographic Explorer Emily Fitzherbert has developed a program based in Western Tanzania to help mitigate unjust killings such as these. Fitzherbert and her Tanzanian counterpart, Peter Genda, are empowering the community to question the circumstances in which a lion is killed and refuse to reward those who hunt lions in Katavi. Working in the villages around the park, they assist the community in drawing up a strict set of village bylaws condemning illegal lion hunting and provide training for grassroot implementation of these bylaws by members of a traditional Sukuma institution, the Sungusungu.