Elephant Aware Masai Mara concentrates on helping tribal groups live peacefully with elephants. Too often conflict occurs due to shrinking resources and competition for land.
Teams of rangers have partnered with local schools to educate youth on the importance of elephants to their culture and to the environment. Elephants, after all, are seed spreaders and many other species’ lives depend on them. They tear down thorny bushes, creating grasslands. With their digging, they create water holes.
The Maasai have long had a respectful relationship with elephants. Yes, they have hunted them, but have traditionally done so for food. When an elephant dies, the Maasai believe they will meet the elephant again upon their own death.
The Maasai are traditionally herders, but due to economic hardship many have lost the ability to have respectful relationships with elephants. They have needed to change their land over to crops, which elephants easily destroy. Months of hard labor can be fruitless if a herd of elephants trample through. The lure of poaching money has been great as well.
Groups like the IFAW have provided training for Maasai to become rangers instead. So far, over thirty Maasai have successfully completed the program. In addition, the IFAW has leased land from the Maasai in order to protect it from development. The Maasai can then keep their traditional work as herders, and the herds can peacefully graze alongside the elephants as they did before.
video: IFAW, youtube