Target: Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, executive director of The African People and Wildlife Fund
Goal: Praise group for helping to decrease the number of lions killed by providing villagers with resources and training to build fencing
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. That is the point of view taken by one organization working to save lions in northern Tanzania. The African People and Wildlife Fund, an American charity organization, has begun what they call the Living Wall project. The project provides local villages with the resources and training to build fences using reclaimed and repurposed wood and donated chain-link fencing. This innovative project allows lions and local farmers to live in peace together.
In northern Tanzania, lion attacks on cattle raised by the local Masai people cause constant alarm. Aside from safety concerns, the cattle constitute the main source of income and self-sufficiency in many Masai villages. In retaliation, and to protect their homes and livestock, the herders then kill the lions, reducing the wild lion population in the area. The number of lions in the region has fallen about 50% in just the last eleven years, as a result of hunting by villagers and habitat loss.
The Living Wall project is putting a stop to this troubling path. The new fences keep lions out, cattle in, and people safe. So far 360 Living Wall fences have been built in the steppe region of Tanzania, where many members of the famed Masai tribe reside. For centuries, the Masai people used fences called “bomas” to keep predators at bay from their animals. However, these “bomas” are made from the relatively weak acacia tree, and are easily destructible by a hungry lion. With the new fences, reclaimed African myrrh trees are used as posts and chain link fencing is used to connect them. Over time, vines and leaves sprout from the trees and overtake the metal fencing, leaving the appearance of a wall of vegetation. Thus the name; the living wall.
According to Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, the executive director of the African People and Wildlife Fund, the number of human attacks on lions are down from seven a year per village, to as little as 1 a year per village. Twelve communities across the Masai steppe region now have living wall fencing, with many more villages eager to get on board. Across Africa, big cats are facing population decline, mainly at the hands of their human neighbors, through poaching and deforestation. Projects like these are instrumental in allowing farmers to make a living, and lions to live in peace. Commend their good work today.
Dear Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld,
Thank you for starting the ingenious Living Wall project. As big cat populations continue to decline, this kind of work is vital to saving some of the world’s most majestic animals. Additionally, the Living Wall project and others like it allow local farmers to continue to thrive in safety.
I am writing to you today to commend your success and to urge you to keep up the good work. Thank you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: swissfrog via Wikimedia Commons