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The Hunter Becomes the Protector in this East African Village

As a traditional pastoral community, livestock is vital to the Barabaig, but around Ruaha National Park, lions threaten their animals, their livelihoods, and sometimes even their lives. Historically, the tribe would track and kill lions that posed a threat to their community — but with populations of the big cat dwindling, a group of conservationists are now helping Barabaig warriors to protect the lions they once hunted. Lion Landscapes Among the group’s innovations is a project that trains local people to set up camera traps. Villages are awarded points for each image they capture of a wild animal, with more points given for rarer animals and those with a higher risk of human-wildlife conflict. Groups of four villages compete to score the most points each quarter, with the winner receiving around $2,000 worth of healthcare, veterinary medicine, and education aid, and the other villages receiving smaller amounts. Lion Landscapes generates valuable wildlife data, trains local people in conservation techniques, and by providing benefits from wildlife being on their land, has led to some villages banning lion hunting. Instead of associating the big cats with loss of cattle, wealth, and life, Dickman says the Barabaig now connect the animals with access to good healthcare, education, and subsidized school meals.