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At Kenya’s Maasai Olympics, warriors swap lion hunt for top bounce | Information

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

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 bounce, have 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 ladies, a few of whom have been draped in vibrant sporting beads.

First held in 2012, the video games have been created by Maasai leaders and the Large Life Basis to interchange 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 rapid decline in Kenya’s lion population, which has plummeted from an estimated 30,000 within the late Nineteen Seventies to little greater than 2,000 in the present day. The Kenya Wildlife Service says the largest risk 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 ladies 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 Large Life Basis, mentioned the video games had helped cut back hazard to the lion inhabitants within the space.

“[The] programme has had a huge effect on the lion inhabitants and it is likely one of the few areas in Africa outdoors of protected areas the place lion inhabitants is secure or rising,” he mentioned.

Saturday’s video games included sprints of distances starting from 100 metres to five,000 metres (328-16,404 payment), and throwing occasions during which contributors used the normal picket golf equipment, referred to as “rungus” and used to chase away hyenas, as an alternative of discuses.

Within the revised excessive bounce occasion, contributors leapt into the air to attempt 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 have 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 searching the medals, I’m not searching lions,” mentioned Lekatoo, who received the javelin throw.

Elder Maasai males have additionally praised the video games.

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

“However in the present day, 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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