At Kenya’s Maasai Olympics, warriors swap lion hunt for high jump | News

The variety of lions in Kenya has plummeted from about 30,000 within the Nineteen Seventies to little greater than 2,000 at the moment.

Dozens of Maasai youths in Kenya have taken half within the fifth version of the “Maasai Olympics”, a sporting occasion promoted by conservationists as a substitute for lion killing as a ceremony of passage for younger warriors.

The video games, which included spear throwing, athletics and excessive leap, had been held on Saturday in Kimana Sanctuary on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, close to Kenya’s border with Tanzania.

The competitors drew some 160 morans or warriors, together with 40 girls, a few of whom had been draped in vibrant sporting beads.

First held in 2012, the video games had been created by Maasai leaders and the Huge Life Basis to switch the neighborhood’s “Olamayio” ceremony, which required boys to struggle and kill a lion to show their bravery and manhood.

The transfer was in response to a fast decline in Kenya’s lion inhabitants, which has plummeted from an estimated 30,000 within the late Nineteen Seventies to little greater than 2,000 at the moment. The Kenya Wildlife Service says the largest menace to lions and different carnivores is battle with people.

“We now co-exist completely with the wildlife,” Maasai chief Matasia Nerangas mentioned.

“We share the identical grazing fields and watering holes with the wild animals, and we stand to learn extra now than earlier than.”

Maasai women dressed in traditional beads parade during the social sporting event dubbed the Maasai Olympics.
Maasai girls dressed of their conventional beads parade in the course of the sporting occasion dubbed the Maasai Olympics within the Kimana sanctuary, on the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, close to the Kenya-Tanzania border on December 10, 2022 [Thomas Mukoya/ Reuters]

Craig Millar, chief working officer of Huge Life Basis, mentioned the video games had helped scale back hazard to the lion inhabitants within the space.

“[The] programme has had a big impact on the lion inhabitants and it is among the few areas in Africa exterior of protected areas the place lion inhabitants is steady or rising,” he mentioned.

Saturday’s video games included sprints of distances starting from 100 metres to five,000 metres (328-16,404 price), and throwing occasions wherein members used the standard wood golf equipment, generally known as “rungus” and used to thrust back hyenas, as an alternative of discuses.

Within the revised excessive leap occasion, members leapt into the air to try to contact a rope with the highest of their head, just like the Adumu dance carried out at ceremonies.

The winners of the assorted occasions had been rewarded with medals and money prizes.

The video games are a “good method to protect our lands,” mentioned 30-year-old Joseph Lekatoo, who has been competing since 2012.

“Now, I’m looking the medals, I’m not looking lions,” mentioned Lekatoo, who received the javelin throw.

Elder Maasai males have additionally praised the video games.

“I killed two lions after I was younger,” 66-year-old herder Lenkai ole Ngola instructed the AFP information company.

“However at the moment, you will need to shield them, as a result of their numbers are declining and in addition as a result of they supply jobs for younger individuals,” he mentioned, referring to tourism.

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