Illegal Lion Killing in Western Tanzania
Direct killing of lions by local communities is considered a huge threat to lion populations in sub- Saharan Africa. In western Tanzania, one of four areas of high lion concentration left in the country, non-retaliatory lion killing by Sukuma agro-pastoralists is impacting lions. Young men still hunt lions on foot to garner rewards from clansmen who are grateful for removal of livestock killers . Yet in reality lions are only found in protected areas nowadays and men are illegally searching for lions and cash rewards within these reserves. To try to halt this practice, a campaign called WASIMA (People,Lions and Environment) was started in 2011 in Mpimbwe district, south of Katavi National Park (4471km2). It has been highly successful in stopping this illegal practice and now plans to expand operations to adjacent reserves in western Tanzania: Mahale National Park (NP) (1613km2), Rukwa-Luafi (7024km2), Ugalla (5000km2), Moyowosi-Kigosi Game Reserves (GR)(13000km2), and Inyonga- Mlele (2350km2). Forest Reserve (FR). Each habitat is of both national and international importance for lions.
Our primary goal has been to spread awareness among community members living adjacent to the park of major changes relating to lion killing in traditional Sukuma custom, and to secure community commitment towards halting lion killings. As the WASIMA campaign matured, and with the support of local community members, our focus increasingly sharpened on establishment and implementation of village by-laws (sheria ndogo) to ban lion dancing and lion killing. To date, we have high rates of success in reducing illegal lion killing: https://experiment.com/projects/stopping-illegal-lion-killing-arewe-succ... . Our new goal is to build on these successes in spreading awareness among community members, securing their commitment, implementing village by-laws to ban lion killing and promoting values of living with lions within Sukuma agro-pastoral communities. We are expanding WASIMA to locations adjacent to other reserves where lions are at risk from Sukuma communities. Pre-expansion we have to survey to determine the potential for expansion and then initiate the campaign. Our first objective is to determine the extent of Sukuma lion killing both inside and outside protected areas, to assess the current attitudes of people to lion killing and lion dancing, and to investigate the willingness of village leaders to participate in.
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