Photograph by Spencer Millsap

Picture of man tending cattle
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Where: Tanzania

Grantee: Laly Lichtenfeld

Laly Lichtenfeld is co-founder and executive director of the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW).

The APW's Big Cats Conservation Initiative in the northern Masai Steppe of Tanzania works to save the country's most threatened lion population as well as important populations of cheetahs and leopards. Notable and unique features of APW's program include the following:

Living Walls: This project represents the largest environmentally friendly effort to prevent lion-livestock conflicts in Tanzania. The team constructs living walls by planting native trees and weaving the growing branches through chain-link fencing. Once planted, the trees take root and grow into an impenetrable, natural livestock enclosure. Living walls have eliminated the need for retaliatory killings of lions. As a result, the lion population in the project's focal area is now showing signs of recovery.

Warriors for Wildlife: This project trains and deploys Masai community members into their own villages as community-based conservationists. Their work covers a wide range of community-based wildlife and habitat conservation activities: patrols to prevent illegal deforestation, bush fire management, poaching prevention, lost livestock searches, and the construction of lion-proof bomas.

Environmental Education and Active Natural Resource Management: The APW education team offers programs for local youth as well as adult education seminars in natural resource management, environmentally friendly business development, and watershed protection.

Sustainable Rural Business Development: This program advances APW's long-term vision of an environmentally friendly economy supporting local people on the Maasai Steppe. Microloans for local women's groups enable the initiation and development of small businesses (such as beekeeping) that are designed to withstand rural economic and ecological realities while providing much-needed income.


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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.

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