“Sixty years ago, there were probably half a million lions in Africa. Today, there are less than 30,000 lions in all of Africa, Leela Hazzah tells CNN. The thought triggered an idea in the young Egyptian’s mind, an idea that turned into a one-year journey to unveil why Kenya’s Maasai warriors are killing lions.
The Maasai have a love-and-hate relationship with lions, she says. “They dislike them because they eat their livestock, but they also admire them tremendously because they are just beautiful animals.” Realizing their symbiosis, Hazzah created an organization that empowers lion warriors and turns them into lion guardians.
Since 2007, Lion Guardians trains and supports a team of more than 70 East Africans who are actively protecting lions throughout approximately 5,500 sq. kms. “Founded on local value systems, community participation and science, [our model] is based on a decade of research and rigorous measures of success,” the organization states on their website.