“Locals leading and learning from the locals”


Watu, Simba na Mazingira // People, Lions and Environment


WASIMA aims to develop a culture of strong local environmental stewardship by harnessing the power of traditional policing institutions, recognizing the need to link environmental education, local development and environmental conservation.

WASIMA is an environmental campaign that was first launched in 2011 as a response to research showing that lion killing was still widespread amongst the Sukuma. The immigrant Sukuma population are an economic powerhouse, and have brought economic growth to the area, now constituting >50% of the population. But like other agro-pastoralist East Africans they maintain traditions of richly rewarding lion killers, who come to proclaim their bravery in the field through a lion-dance at your house. In recent years some young men have been hunting lions inside the protected areas rather than lions threatening homesteads, since there are few lions outside protected areas nowadays.

This manipulation of traditional custom has sparked a grassroots protest movement that WASIMA supports. Our principal success lies in establishing village by-laws that outlaw illegal lion killing and lion dancing. Such laws now exist in almost every village in Mpimbwe. Additionally WASIMA uses its popular appeal to try to control tree cutting and illegal incursions into protected areas, to provide broader environmental education, to support the incipient WMA, and is now poised to move to other areas in Tanzania where the arrival of Sukuma shifts the ecological balance.

WASIMA team is nowexpanding operations from Mpimbwe , south of Katavi National Park (4471km2) to other areas adjacent reserves: Mahale National Park (NP) (1613km2), Rukwa-Luafi (7024km2),
Ugalla (5000km2), Moyowosi-Kigosi Game Reserves (GR)(13000km2), and Inyonga- Mlele
(2350km2)Forest Reserve (FR) in western Tanzania where lions are at high risk. Most of these
areas are highly faced by high uncontrolled influx of agro-pastoral Sukuma who remotely
settle around them in spite of being habitats of both national and international importance
for lions. 

In addition to Rufford conservation grant for expansion, WASIMA Campaign has also received
grants from Sacramento zoo conservation fund and Greenville zoo conservation fund to stop
illegal lion killings through park trips of former lion killers and lion dancers, local medicine
practitioners as well as support pupils from families former lion dancers and those closer to
Katavi National Park whose economy depend of nature resources harvesting like charcoal
burning and poaching. The grants are expected to reduce pressure on wildlife and enhance
love for lions as well as increase feel of need of local participation to nature conservation.

Follow WASIMA current activities at our Facebook page.