East Africa is home to a vast array of flora and fauna ranging from the majestic lions to the ants that inhabit the widespread Whistling Thorn Acacia Trees. Many Indigneous groups call East Africa home as well. This includes the Maasai, semi-nomadic peoples who manage large swaths of the land for herding cattle. This is the practice of pastoralism. Maasai have local traditional knowledge of the Kenyan and Tanzanian landscapes and have been using practices such as pastoralism to manage the land for generations. It is a prime example of how wildlife and cultural conservation go hand-in-hand. If Maasai culture is preserved then the wildlife and land are protected as well. 

One manner in which tradition and culture are maintained between generations is through the practice of storytelling. Storytelling has the potential to provide insight for conservation management plans. When considering how conservation and storytelling can collaborate, it is important to not alter or change traditional stories, but rather understand the background and meaning behind them. 

Conservation is an important concept and one that has political, economic, and social perspectives. It is more than the protection of the animals. Conscious collaboration is required between conservationists and indigenous groups such as the Maasai. That being said, collaboration means understanding and respecting one another. Storytelling is an interesting angle for where this education can begin. During your visit to East Africa, I urge you to seek out the stories of lion-hunting, and the stories of the Maasai. But don’t just listen, learn why these stories might’ve originated in the first place. That will be your first step in understanding the complexity of wildlife conservation.