The value of activities like the “Maasai Olympics” in the fight against poaching Image courtesy of Mara Triangle facebook Page
27 February 2013 Written by 

The value of activities like the “Maasai Olympics” in the fight against poaching

Poaching is to animals what genocide is to humanity. Rarely are we led to think of it like that but it is true. If animals shared the intellectual capacity to voice their cries, hearts would break. Despite the rise of anti-poaching organisations such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Born Free Foundation (BFF), the poaching cancer still grows. While not everyone can assist these organisations actively, another stance can be considered to fight poaching. One of these ways is through tapping into the cultural activities of communities.

In December 2012, Kenya held the first Maasai Olympics event at the Kimana Wildlife sanctuary in Amboseli. The event targeted Kenya's Maasai tribe for one chief reason. The Maasai have a cultural tradition that is potentially dangerous to wildlife, especially lions. When the men in the Maasai community attained the age of transiting into manhood, they had to prove their masculinity by hunting down a lion. They would be required to kill it and in doing so prove their courage. The incentive in many cases was a girl to marry. The Maasai Olympics offered an alternative. Young Maasai men can now prove their prowess to the girls through sports. It's working.

Cultures such as the Maasai will always be affected with the tides of change. If they are to maintain their cultural norms and compromise their former practices, they need to know that they are not losing their heritage. The events should increase and we should attend them. They need to know that what they are doing is worthwhile. The general message sent out is that lions will be safe. However the deeper message would be that we love our animals and country too much to let poachers have a field day. The events will also be platforms to increase the awareness of the populace concerning the ugly traits of poaching.

Active interactions to sensitize people against vices in society are always indelible. Attending a Maasai Olympics event will leave individuals more charged about poaching as opposed to simply signing pledges. Active awareness helps fight vices more than passive awareness. The Maasai Olympics hopefully will grow. And possibly with time other tribes in Kenya will follow suite. We may not necessarily have Kamba Olympics but the active interaction in whatever cultural event should go back to the need of protecting our animals and environment.



Ernest Wamboye Wakhusama

Ernest Wamboye is a writer and editor working in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a volunteer Brand Ambassador at AfricaTalentbank.com and an origami artist and storyteller at Arts & OAK, a company that he founded. Ernest is married to Waturi and they both live in Nairobi, Kenya.
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