A group of Maasai from the Mbirikani Group Ranch in Kenya will be working at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park over the next few weeks as part of an ongoing effort to share their culture and tell people about their work to preserve endangered species in Africa. The conservation effort is part of a Predator Compensation Plan put together as a collaborative effort by Conservation International and the Ol Donyo Wuas Trust.The purpose of the visit is to communicate the efforts of the Maasai to preserve endangered species through the Predator Compensation Program. Under the Program, Maasai herders receive market value for livestock taken by predators, including lions. However, the program only pays livestock owners from local communities that have not killed lions or other predators to protect their herds or extract traditional revenge.
A century ago, 1 million lions roamed across Africa. By the 1980s, the population had dropped to 200,000 due to over-hunting, habitat loss and other human encroachment. Fewer than 25,000 lions remain in the wild today, most of them in parks and protected areas.
Since the Predator Compensation Fund was launched in 2003, only four lions have been killed at Mbirikani Group Ranch, compared to 65 on neighboring ranches, and the lion population at Mbirikani is increasing.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments.