What Some in Maasai Mara are Doing to Prevent Another Marsh Pride Tragedy

AKTF-MC team in field

A week has passed since lions of the Marsh Pride were poisoned in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. The perpetrators are currently in custody, awaiting trial and sentencing, and will hopefully serve as an example to others in the region who would break the law. Are these reactive measures enough, though, to protect lions and other wildlife in the region’s future?

(Above: AKTF Anti-Poaching Team Leader, Elias Kamande, dissuading Maasai ‘morans’ who have lost a cow from retaliating against lions.)

Currently there are loud local voices calling out for the release of the Marsh Pride tragedy’s perpetrators, claiming that any Maasai has the right to retaliate if his herd is threatened. We must remember that since cows are central to Maasai culture and the foundation of their traditional livelihoods, local herders will understandably be upset when losing their livestock to lions. However, poisoning, spearing, or shooting lions is not the answer. Apart from the illegality of that– especially in retaliation for lions attacking cows unlawfully brought into a protected conservation area, as was the case last week in the Marsh Pride’s territory – lion killing threatens to ruin the livelihoods of countless other people, not just the handful of herders that lost cows. Specifically, thousands of Maasai rely on jobs created by the tourism industry, and they and their families benefit from the schools, health clinics, wells, roads, and other services that revenue from a healthy Mara Ecosystem makes possible. Lions are a main attraction in Maasai Mara, and their disappearance could spell disaster for the entire local economy if tourists take their safaris elsewhere.

In the same vein, it should be noted that boycotting Kenya (as some outsiders have called for) in response to the Marsh Pride tragedy is as wrongheaded as killing lions in retaliation for livestock loss. In fact, nothing —> Read More