As far as rough neighbors go, lions and humans have long had a difficult relationship. But now, a new generation of warriors in northern Kenya is creating peace between the two communities—and saving this endangered species—in a unique way that can be replicated anywhere!

Can you imagine living alongside lions? With their extremely dwindling populations, in a few decades, this will become even more of a rarity. So, today, we’re heading to Samburu, Kenya—one of the few places left where you can see people and lions living alongside each other—to meet a community of warriors using their unique skills to create a peaceful coexistence between humans and these wild carnivores.

Warrior Watch‘s mission points to a whole new era of conservation!

Image: Two lionesses

Source: Pixabay

From hunters to protectors!

In a wonderfully surprising turn of events, many of the Samburu warriors who are now protecting lions actually grew up honing the skills to kill them. Because of their community’s deep generational ties to their livestock, when hungry lions roam near and see an opportunity for a meal, their presence directly impacts a family’s ability to take care of themselves. Therefore, hunting down these lions and ensuring that they wouldn’t return became the go-to defense over the generations.

But this new generation of warriors is flipping this on its head!

Instead of tracking lions down to kill them, they’re using their skills to keep tabs on the cats and inform their community of their location. This helps people better decide where to move their herds, keeping both lions and humans safe in a win-win operation.

The impact of their work is an eye-opening look at the world of conservation and who among us needs to be supported to make an impact. Discover this and meet these Samburu warriors yourself in this wonderful short film brought to us by National Geographic!

To read more about Warrior Watch’s work, make sure you check out the programs page over on Ewaso Lions’ website! Ewaso Lions is “an independent 100% African wildlife conservation organization based in Samburu, Isiolo and Nairobi which engages and builds the capacity of key demographic groups (elders, warriors, women, and children) by developing approaches to reduce human-carnivore conflict.” Please head over to their website to learn more!

And, of course, you can find more great content like this over on National Geographic’s YouTube channel!

Engaging the community!

When you’re talking about protecting lion populations from disappearing, there’s no one better to tackle the problem and make an actual difference than the people who are impacted most by it: those who live amongst them. As we see with Warrior Watch, they already have the skills, the generational knowledge, and the passion to ensure that the job is done in the most effective way—all they need is the support to do so.

Thankfully, this idea is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Want to stop illegal logging? Give the community where it happens a tool to detect it! Looking to find out who is poaching rhinos? Engage the people who know their community inside and out. More and more, we’re shown that the combination of local knowledge—with the outside assistance of new innovations, financial help, and sharing of knowledge—is a first-class ticket to seeing real, sustainable progress.

So, what can you do?

While you can’t go off and become one of these warriors protecting lions yourself, you can support them! Click here to donate to Warrior Watch and contribute to the resources they need to keep doing their important work.

Closer to home, you can consider what knowledge and skills you have that would benefit your community if you shared them. Do you know how to build raised garden beds? Maybe you could make a few and donate them to a community garden or offer them to neighbors! Perhaps you know a lot about cars—I’m sure there’s a crew of people in your town who’d love to learn how to change a tire.

Thinking creatively about what we can each do with our unique catalogues of knowledge is more impactful than you may have ever thought. While you may not be saving lions, you could still be an important piece in building a stronger community. And I think there’s still a bit of warrior in that. I mean, just take a look at what these people have done:

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As always, my friend, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

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Notes:

  1. National Geographic. “Warrior Watch: Protecting Kenya’s Lions | Explorers in the Field.” YouTube, 1 July 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceToWtMrOfM. Accessed 29 Mar. 2021.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.