For decades predators and farmers in northern Tanzania have been at war. The predators – lions – attack the farmer’s cattle in the villages and in retaliation the farmers kill the predators. The situation is so serious that the lion population in the region has decreased by 50% since 2003, in addition to the environment disintegration and loss. Fortunately this is all about to change, a new low-tech solution nicknamed ‘living-walls’ is protecting lions and saving livestock.
Simply speaking a living wall is a structure that combines the method traditionally used by the local people of using tree branches as the pen fence with modern chain link fencing, so that the tree is constantly growing around the chain link fence. This reinforces the pen walls so that lions are prevented from penetrating the walls and killing the livestock. Additionally this increases habitat protection by decreasing the need to constantly cut down trees to sustain the traditional method of fencing. The lions were suffering as well because locals don’t know any better than to kill them because they killed their cattle, it was a vicious cycle.
Tanzania’s tourism industry supports 27,000 jobs and generates a mighty 25% of foreign exchange, and its most well known tourist attractions are in the North. It goes without saying that as wildlife around the world decreases local communities must strive to keep their wildlife alive. The living-all is a small, cost effective way of doing that. All entrepreneurs should understand the concept that it is important to keep up with the times and profit should not always be the driving force behind adopting new technology. The farmers could have very easily stuck to their traditional methods but they realized that it was not helping themselves, the environment, the local lion population or the tourism sector.
Photo credits: The Guardian, afrpw.org