Joseph Dendu is monitoring “Zone F –Malinzanga”, with his Maasai partner Julius Selendu. He is a Barbaig traditional warrior has been working with the project as an RCP as a Lion Defender since 2013. Joseph has one wife and is living in Malinzanga village. He was born in Manyara Region before his father migrated to Iringa a long time ago when he was very young. “I was brought up in this environment of Ruaha so I know all the places well and I grow up in the Barbaig traditions from which we are taught to kill lions so as we can become real warriors,” said Joseph.
Joseph has been to traditional lion hunts many times and he also led many hunts with his fellow warriors. “In my career I killed many lions while leaving more than 10 lions with injuries as it is vey common to spear them and run away with the spears. It is very stressful to hunt lions and elephants as we normally take both risks to kill or to be killed but there was no way out, we had to do it by any means,” said Joseph. “My first time to hear about Ruaha Carnivore project was when Stephano (Lion Defender Communiy Liason Officer) came and talked to elders about the project and its aims. Everyone was shocked about protecting the lions which were most dangerous species and the major problem causers to our livestock.”
“My community was divided as others were strongly opposing while others were neutral. From that point Stephano used to visit us more regularly and conduct the meetings which were asking for support from the community and finally the community had agreed to let the warriors to join the project but with the condition that if the lions attacks our livestock then we must kill them because if we leave them they will finish our livestock hence the community will die because of hunger.”
“The elders agreed to stop the traditional lion hunts and we were given the role to help the community to reduce the human carnivore conflicts by reinforcing the traditional bomas, finding lost livestock and looking for the presence of the lions in the village land and alerting the community and herders not to graze where the lions were sighted. It is not a simple work as the lions do not know the boundaries and the pastoralists use to look only for the good pastures regardless there were lions or not”.
According to Joseph the community now is different from the past as they provide assistance to the LDs and they now started to understand the importance of wildlife, especially getting direct benefits from them. He notes that we still have a long way to go to stop lion killings, both traditional and retaliatory lion hunts.