A lion roared in the distance as the sun set over the plains near Kenya’s Nairobi National Park. Hearing the noise, Nickson Parmisa, assistant chief of the local Maasai population, turned on his solar-charged battery, causing his metal and plywood house to be bathed in a blue light. As his wife cooked potato stew using a gas burner powered by cow dung, Parmisa turned on his iPad to track a radio-collared lioness that had been on a livestock-killing spree.
The lion, nicknamed Athi, was nearby, the iPad confirmed, but Parmisa was at ease.
“It’s good when the lion roars,” he said. “That means she’s not hunting. It’s when they are quiet you have a problem.”
Lions have traditionally been the Maasai tribe’s greatest adversaries. They are a deadly threat to the cattle and other livestock that are both an integral part of Maasai culture and the tribe’s greatest source of wealth. In the not-so-distant past, young Maasai men had to kill a lion to pass their initiation into adulthood. But now the tables have turned. Despite the ongoing livestock predation, lions may be the tribe’s strongest hope for preserving their way of life.
Read more at BBC Travel.
The blood was sweet, and thicker than I expected. A skin had already formed on the liquid seconds after it squirted from the cow’s neck. I downed the full cup in one gulp so I wouldn’t hold up the line of Maasai men waiting for their own mug of morning blood.
It was the morning of my friend’s wedding on the plains outside Nairobi, Kenya. Soon the bride would arrive in her white dress and a Pentecostal minister would perform the ceremony. But first, the men shared the blood from the freshly slaughtered steer. Read more at Munchies, VICE Magazine’s food channel.
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My stories for Munchies, the VICE Magazine food channel, explore the world of food and drink in Africa, South America, Europe and across the United States.
How to Eat Like Count Dracula in Transylvania: Dracula’s supper of choice is not usually available even to humans with an adventurous palate, but you can try the next best thing at vampire-inspired restaurants in Transylvania—now in present-day Romania.
How to Raise Bees in the Driest Place on Earth: The Atacama desert is notoriously inhospitable to life, and yet animals and humans alike find a way to survive. Among them are honeybees, fertilizing desert flowers and providing a sweet source of calories for the population.
A Proper Maasai Wedding Starts with a Cup of Fresh Cow’s Blood: On the morning of my friend’s wedding near Nairobi, I watched as Maasai tribesmen wrestled a steer to the ground and slit its throat. It would become the centerpiece of the wedding feast, but not before we drank its blood.
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