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Where: Northern Kenya

Grantee: Shivani Bhalla

Shivani Bhalla is a fourth-generation Kenyan, a biologist, and the founder of the Ewaso Lions Project.

Ewaso Lions works together with local communities to advance lion conservation. Programs promote human-carnivore coexistence, provide education, and build local capacity for wildlife rangers and community rangers.

There have been several studies with ethnic groups such as the Maasai; Ewaso's was the first of its kind to work with the Samburu community of northern Kenya. A suite of education initiatives and community outreach provided researchers with access to a wide range of areas and communities, and helped them gain an in-depth perspective on human-predator conflict, which enabled them to craft more effective conservation solutions.

The Warrior Watch program was the first project to involve Samburu warriors in conservation northern Kenya. Samburu warriors, much like their cousins the Maasai, are important stakeholders in wildlife conservation—they spend years living in wildlife areas and are responsible for their communities' security—and yet they are often neglected in conservation decision-making. The Warrior Watch program involves Samburu warriors in wildlife issues and provides incentives for them to protect wildlife. The program provides warriors with food and education instead of a salary, which makes it more sustainable.

With Shivani's most recent Big Cats Initiative grant, Ewaso Lions proposes to focus on dwindling cheetah populations by addressing threats to the cheetahs' long-term survival and promoting coexistence between local pastoralists and cheetahs.

The team will also gather data on cheetahs living in community conservancies and enhance data collection and community engagement by expanding the Warrior Watch program in two new conservancies.

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