Meet the remarkable women who live among lions

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

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.

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