140613 1 1 The Maasai Olympics Are Coming

Sometimes, in order to save animals, you need to look outside of the box. In Maasai land, we have a conservation challenge: young men (morani) intent on killing lions to prove their bravery and physical prowess. Traditionally, morani participate in a manhood ritual that brings prestige. Unfortunately, it involves spearing a lion.

Over time, these traditional hunting practices have diminished, in large part through the efforts of the Big Life Livestock Compensation Program, as well as the work of the Lion Guardians in the ecosystem. But there are still young men out there desperate to kill.

In 2008, the “cultural fathers” of the warriors came to Big Life asking for help in eliminating lion hunting from the Maasai culture. And so we have partnered with the Maasai of Amboseli to develop a warrior conservation-education program, the Moran Education Initiative, and conceived the first-ever Maasai Olympics, which was held in December 2012. 

The Maasai Olympics event brings together conservation partners from across the ecosystem and provides warriors with an alternative to lion killing to demonstrate their abilities – sports based on traditional warrior skills. The events include distance running, spear throwing, high jumping and more.

With the next Maasai Olympics planned for December of this year, the preparations and team selections are well underway and the excitement is building! 

To find out more about the Olympics, or how you can help, please visit the website :