Last Friday, the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust’s Simba Project paid Ksh1.2 million (about US$16,000) to nearly 500 Maasai whose livestock were killed by predators between July and September 2009. The payout took place after no predators were killed by Kuku Group Ranch residents during the third quarter.
The Simba Project is designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict on Kuku Group Ranch. MWCT compensates livestock owners quarterly when their cows, sheep, goats, or donkeys are killed by predators such as lions, hyenas, and baboons. The payouts only occur, however, provided that no predators are killed in retaliation for livestock loss during the quarter.
Nosero, one of the lions on Kuku Group Ranch that the Simba Project helps to protect.
“Simba Project is very important for the whole community because everyone benefits,” says Simba Project coordinator Jacob Ntete. “It teaches us the importance of conserving lions and other wild animals. It teaches the community the importance of preserving habitat and the whole environment. Now that the moran [Maasai warriors] know that Simba Project can compensate their livestock, they don’t want to kill lions anymore.”
When livestock predation occurs on Kuku Group Ranch, livestock owners report their losses to MWCT Game Scouts. Verification officers from the MWCT office then visit the location of each reported incident, where they determine the number and species of livestock lost, the cause of the loss, and the type of predator.
Simba Project Coordinator Jacob Ntete (R) and MWCT intern Peter Wangai.
Since the beginning of 2009, the Simba Project has paid more than Ksh2.8 million in compensation claims. Ntete is optimistic that livestock predation rates will drop in the remaining months of the year, if rain brings needed relief from drought. Livestock will be stronger and herders will no longer forced to cover such large distances in search of pasture, reducing predation, he says.
You can learn more about the Simba Project here.