Author: Liam Taylor
Last month marked the final round of the latest Maasai Olympics, which offers Maasai warriors an alternative to killing lions as part of their traditional rite of passage.
For over 500 years, hunting lions was an important part of the ‘coming of age’ process for Maasai boys between 12-25 years old, representing bravery and personal achievement. The hunt was originally undertaken solo, however as lion numbers dwindled the community adopted a new rule encouraging warriors to hunt in groups.
Now, Maasai elders are hoping that practice could be coming to an end with the Maasai Olympics. The idea was originally floated by wildlife charity Big Life Foundation and eight Maasai elders who wanted to “stop lion hunting by our warriors once and for all, making it a cultural taboo”.
The sporting event features six events based on traditional warrior skills: 5,000m, 800m, 200m, high jump, javelin and the rungu throw, which involves hurling a wooden throwing club as far as possible. Alongside the events are talks and workshops that aim to educate local people on the importance of co-existence and tolerance in the relationship between humans and wildlife.
International charity Born Free is the major sponsor of the event, with the organisation’s CEO Howard Jones saying of the Maasai, “we all have much to learn from them”.
“As human human populations grow, and our wants seem to escale… the pressing need for co-existence, and examples of how this may be achieved, are few and far between,” Jones said.
It is estimated that just 2,000 lions remain in Kenya, with the Maasai playing a key role in their protection and conservation.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.