Kenya’s Jeneria Lekilelei guns for Ksh.2M Tusk award
Jeneria Lekilelei has been shortlisted for the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa.
He was nominated for his work with Ewaso Lions, a non-profit wildlife conservation organisation in Samburu.
“In an area as remote as this, it is easy to think that we have been forgotten. We find our strength and reward from being with the lions who we now love as we love our cows. But sometimes, especially in times of drought, things get very difficult. Winning this award would remind us that we are not alone,” Lekilelei said.
Lekilelei was nominated alongside Ugandan Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and Sengalese Tomas Diagne.
The winner will be announced in November 2019 at a ceremony in London, where they will be presented with a £20,000 (Ksh.2,565,900) grant to further their good work.
Growing up as a livestock herder in Samburu, Lekilelei admits lions were always seen as “the enemy”.
However, after joining Ewaso Lions, Lekilelei said he learnt to appreciate the value of a species rapidly disappearing around him.
Most importantly, he realised that people, often treated as a threat to wildlife, would hold the key to the survival of the lions in their landscape.
“I really want everyone to take ownership of lions and wildlife. It’s not just about me and my team, it’s about the whole community. We all need to save lions for our children.” he said.
“I now realise how important it is that I am a shepherd of all animals in Samburu and without the wild animals, our domestic animals and our way of life is also threatened.”
In his role as Director of Community Conservation, Lekilelei works with local people to diffuse conflict.
He is mentoring a new generation of conservationists, and bringing back an old idea that people can coexist and live peacefully with wildlife.
He leads the Warrior Watch program that transforms young men who once killed lions into ambassadors for the species.
The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa is organised by Tusk Trust in partnership with Investec Asset Management and is celebrated annually.
Britain’s Prince William, Tusk’s royal patron said: ”As so much of the natural world continues to face the alarming and real threat of extinction it is vital we recognise how much we owe to conservation’s unsung heroes whom the Tusk Awards shine a spotlight on.”
“Living alongside Africa’s precious wildlife means they each face huge challenges, but their bravery and determination to preserve all life on the planet gives me hope for the future.”
Previous recipients of the awards include Vincent Opyene who established Uganda’s National Resource Conservation Network.
He has been leading investigations in wildlife trafficking and corruption resulting in significant prosecutions.