Photograph by Jonathan Torgovnik
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.
One such community outreach project is the Warrior Watch program, which involves Samburu warriors. 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, making it more sustainable.
With Shivani’s latest 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.
Ewaso Lions uses scientific research and community-based outreach programs to promote coexistence between lions and people, and is the only project in northern Kenya to focus on lions in and out of protected areas.Go to the Ewaso Lions Website
Nat Geo WILD presents a week dedicated to nature’s fiercest felines—big cats—creatures of magnificent strength, ferocity, and beauty that are rapidly facing extinction. With visually stunning and powerful stories from around the world, get closer than ever before to lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers, and more as you share in their triumphs, defeats, and epic struggles to survive.