CHESTER Zoo has helped fund the Maasai Olympics this year in a bid to stop the tribe killing wildlife in Kenya.
The event, held at the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, was created in 2012 as a way of conserving the country’s lion populations.
The Olympics, which will feature competitions such as high jump, spear-throwing and other warrior-based skills, will give competitors the opportunity to win medals and prizes, rather than contributing to the disturbing deterioration in the large cat numbers.
Rachael Wheatley, public relations officer for Chester Zoo has said: ” We wanted to include events pertinent to our cause, bringing relevance to the games. I believe making this a success will greatly improve the chance of enhanced funding from other wildlife conservation projects, such as WWF.”
She continued: “By raising awareness, not only in this country, but also in Africa, we believe the event will have a positive impact on both lion populations and the Maasai tribe.”
The Maasai tribe usually takes part in customary hunts to express bravery, attract attention from the opposite sex and even identify future leaders of the tribe, yet over the last few years they have been urged to take part in healthy competition and focus their attentions on winning medals for their village.
It is the first time in 500 years that contests of this kind have taken place and it is hoped the 2014 Maasai Olympics could continue to contribute to a positive culture change for the coming years.