Big Life Foundation
Facebook icon twitter square red 64x Instagram Vimeo  DONATE

141217 1 1 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics

The chanting rippled through the early morning mist, a tangible vibration more than a sound. Maasai warriors preparing to clash, but on a sports field rather than a battleground.

A herd of elephants moved past in the distance, but the young men were too busy painting each other’s faces to notice. In the Amboseli ecosystem of southern Kenya the long-awaited final day of the Maasai Olympics was here, the culmination of a year of conservation education blended with sport.

141217 1 2 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics
 
Tradition and cultures are still strong in Maasailand and, until recently, so was the desire to kill lions. But in 2012 the Menye Layiok (or ‘fathers of the warriors’) came to Big Life Foundation to hatch a plan to take traditional lion killing out of the local Maasai culture, for the good of people and wildlife. 

And so the Maasai Olympics was born, now made possible by a number of local and international stakeholders and supporters. The basic premise is an attempt to engage young men, who might otherwise have been the ones hunting lions, and demonstrate that conservation can mean something other than livestock killed by wild predators.

141217 1 3 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics

The Big Life Predator Compensation Fund has already had great success in protecting lions in the ecosystem, complemented by the Lion Guardians program, but the Maasai Olympics is reaching warriors on an unprecedented scale, and trying to help them adapt to changing times. As development continues to wipe cultures clean, it would be a tragedy for this people to lose their songs, but traditional lion killing cannot continue.

141217 1 4 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics

And the competition was intense. The winners of the 800m and 5km running events both won trips to next year’s New York marathon (organised by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust), the winner of the standing high jump soared to a new unbelievable record height of nine feet, and the javelin and club-throw drew excited crowds as always. And crowning a successful day, the Mbirikani warrior manyatta (village) won the overall team prize, taking home a prize breeding bull.

141217 1 5 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics
 
In the past, the physical prowess of a warrior manyatta was measured by the number of lion manes hanging on their flagpole. Hopefully from now on it will be measured in the number of medals won at the Maasai Olympics.
 
141217 1 6 Warriors Do Battle at the Maasai Olympics
Share This
 
80% to 100% of Proceeds go to Big Life
160213 1 1 Ranger of the Month January 2016
February 13, 2016

RANGER OF THE MONTH: JANUARY 2016

It’s hard to think straight when you’ve got a lion on your roof, but a warrior’s spear had already glanced off the car and Seiko had to act fast. He put his foot down and the little Suzuki 4x4 went crashing through the… Read More
150519 1 1 Ranger of the Month April 2015 Moloimet Legos
May 19, 2015

BIG LIFE RANGER OF THE MONTH, APRIL 2015: MOLOIMET LEGOS

It was early morning. The young men moved swiftly through the bush. The tracks were fresh and the warriors moved fast, excitement building as they anticipated the combat ahead. By mid afternoon, the warriors found their… Read More
141206 1 1 Ranger of the Month November 2014 Senior Sergeant Lekina Olempumpu
December 06, 2014

BIG LIFE RANGER OF THE MONTH, NOVEMBER 2014: SENIOR SERGEANT LEKINA OLEMPUMPU

Anti-poaching rangers are strong, courageous individuals. They spend whole days patrolling the bush, tracking poachers, and keeping the peace between wildlife and humans. It takes an even stronger character to lead… Read More
141002 1 1 Ranger of the Month August Dickson Ntawuasa
October 02, 2014

BIG LIFE RANGER OF THE MONTH, AUGUST: DICKSON NTAWUASA

A rhino named Dickson, who would have thought? Certainly not the man himself when he stepped in his new position as a ranger 22 years ago.There were only ten rangers back then, a motley crew starting off in a role never… Read More