Student Support Program
The Student Support Program was initiated in 2017 as part of WASIMA campaign to support pupils from families of former lion killers, lion dancers and those rewarding lion dancers. Lion dancers are lion killers who practices tradition lion dance using lion amulets (skin, teeth, nails and manes) as witnesses for killing these livestock predators. The lion dances aims to get prestige as warriors, and thus collect rewards from their family relatives, neighbors and fellow resident members willing to give rewards such as cattle, shoats and cash. Most lion dancers have become wealthy and respected individuals in community as the results of these gifts to the extent of inspiring children and young men and the whole community to have worriers in their family for the purpose of becoming rich. Most locals still believe that lion killers have good fortunes of becoming rich easily and fast, such that locally accepted traditional practices has recently changed resulting into devastating population of lion population within reserves in western Tanzania ecosystem.
Lion dancers have been a motivation of producing fake lion dancers who illegally hunt lions and dance for rewards and the community is happy to give them gifts. In combination with pupils from marginalized families our aim is decrease the drop out, improve performance, retain pupils in schools and reduce pressure through over dependence to natural resources for livelihood. We know through education the lion hunting mindset diminishes leaving the young generations with new conservation attitude which then produces a wildlife co-existing community. By providing uniforms and class materials to these target families, through this program we are intending to reduce poaching by reducing needs for harvesting charcoal, bush meat, timber and fuel wood so on for the sake of raising cash they would otherwise need to purchase these items. A total of about 300 pupils have benefited from the program between since 2017 to date. The support included school uniforms and class equipment (shirts and trousers, skirts, shoes, pen and exercise books and underwear for girls).