Dance to save lions

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We’ve supported a range of interesting conservation projects over the years but dance parties to celebrate lions is unique!

In this guest blog post Amy Dickman from the Ruaha Carnivore Project explains how working with local people has changed the fortunes of lions.

dancing lions photo credit Ruaha Carnivore project

Lion Defender dancing events grow more and more popular

In the Barabaig culture, men are typically awarded “dancing rights” after spearing a lion, which enables them to have fun and mingle with young women. Ruaha Carnivore Project is working with the Lion Defenders and community members to support this activity with a twist; instead of hosting an event for those who speared lions, we host an event for everyone in a community that hasn’t killed a lion in the past month.

These events are wildly popular with around 50 youths attending each month. Because the Barabaig live in scattered households and spend much of their time grazing, the opportunity for a social event brings large crowds. While it’s intended to be an informal and fun event, we use the opportunity to explain our programmes and objectives. This is especially important as the Barabaig are highly mobile and often new Barabaig pastoralists arrive in the area without knowledge of what we do. 

At one of our recent dancing events, we were especially pleased to see a young boy who was rumoured to be related to an influential lion hunter. The boy often grazes his cattle through our field camp and several of our staff have got to know him. He was happy to join in the dancing although he was still learning the proper technique! He listened intently to our talk at the event, and we hope that he will not only better understand the importance of carnivores and the benefits they bring to the community but will also share that with his wider family and encourage them to engage in conservation rather than lion killing. 

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