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They’ve also returned some 5,000 lost livestock worth over £500,000 to the villages.
I was there to see the fruits of their remarkable work on lion conservation with local tribes.“It’s hard to see a dead lion, helpless, its body full of spear holes,” Ben Jee tells me.“At those times, we have to put ourselves in the Barabaigs’ shoes and understand their sacrifices.” Once a secretive, nomadic tribe regarded as outsiders and averse to change, the Barabaig are slowly adapting to new initiatives.Cascio takes us to meet a family learning to live with lions.Kitisi is a sprawling village of mud brick houses along a dusty ochre track – one of 12 benefiting from RCP’s programmes.
As pastoralists whose lives are centred on their cattle, the Barabaig and Maasai tribes have a cultural hatred of lions, and kill them during traditional hunts in rites of passage for warriors, or in retaliation for killing livestock.
With livestock killings falling by a staggering 60 per cent, they’ve become local heroes.
RCP provides meals in primary schools, funds children through secondary school and university, takes locals into the park and holds wildlife DVD screenings to over 30,000 people.
“Before we started, around 60 lions a year were being killed by the Barabaig.
This year there were just four,” says Ben Jee Cascio, Lion Defenders manager.
“That was probably Mr T you heard,” our guide Dulla explains in the morning.