How Lions Can Save the Maasai

lion

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.

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A Proper Maasai Wedding Starts with a Cup of Fresh Cow’s Blood

Kenya_Vice_05The 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.

Find all my Munchies stories here.