Africa: Separate Cattle From Lion

Maasai Boma

Maasai Boma

If farmers in Africa put their livestock into an enclosure it would protect the animals from attacks by lions, which in turn would protect the lions from being attacked by farmers. Farmers are on lion home ranges. It is the same for cheetahs. Lions are bound to attack livestock. This causes tension between lion and farmers. Farmers want to kill the lions.

Over large parts of Africa the word for enclosure is “boma”. The campaign is to build bomas to protect both cattle and lion. The result must lead to more harmony. Less livestock killed by lions and less lions killed by farmers. It sounds very simple, which makes me ask, “why did it take so long to come up with the idea?”

Bomas are inexpensive to build ($500) and maintain. There certainly has to be separation. You could argue that all three should be separated: human from lion and livestock from lion. Ideally the lion should have its own inviolable space and be left alone.

I am not sure about the cost because surely it depends on the size of the enclosure. However, I believe that the build a boma initiative refers to building the enclosure for use by cattle at night. In which case it could be relatively small.

The “Build a Boma” scheme is part of a National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative called “Cause an Uproar”.

I think the word “boma’ also applies to the homes of people in some districts. There are some sophisticated schemes to protect the snow leopard in the Himalayan foothills. Using Buddhism is one example.

Photographer of the photo on Flickr

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Africa: Separate Cattle From Lion — 5 Comments

  1. I first read about this idea several years ago. I wonder if the problem then could be the problem now, the farmers are apt not to accept any change. They have started educating their children to teach them why it is important not to kill lions, leopards and hyenas who attack their cattle. $$$ was a problem, but the wonderful Nat Geo managed “Cause an Uproar” program (which you of course mentioned) is taking care of that issue. It’s the same issue all civilized cultures have had with getting farmers/ranchers to accept predator conservation. They could institute stiffer fines for killing lions, but how would they pay? I think that guaranteed sell of their beef to the UK, USA, etc. if they build the boma’s might get them to act. We have to do something.
    Great article Michael. Another one we all need to share on Facebook, etc.

    • Hi Dan. They have a similar problem with the snow leopard. As I recall they stopped farmers killing snow leopards (they are easy to kill because they are not fearful of humans) by instigating an insurance scheme. This page has some more info:

      http://pictures-of-cats.org/Snow-Leopard-Den-in-Mongolia.html

      I think the Snow Leopard Trust is smarter than Nat Geo. They have very clever ideas on conservation. I have doubts whether the boma scheme will work. It needs committed participation from the farmers. Will they get it? I doubt it.

  2. In India they have a “INSURANCE SCHEME” for the village cattle living within the “Buffer Zones” of the Tiger and Lion national parks. If a tiger or a lion kills a villagers cattle then the government compensates the villager and hence some peace is maintained.The real problem arises when a tiger or lion kills villager.In India the “Gir Forests” is the only region in Asia that has the wild Asiatic lion and its conservation efforts are very successful.In the “Gir Forests” the equivalent of the “MASAI BOMA” is created in the “Buffer zones”, the entire small village and cattle corralled in a fenced enclosure.It is while the cattle are grazing in the “Buffer Zone” that they occasionally get killed by lions.

    • As usual, a really nice comment that adds useful information to this page. Thanks Rudolph. Both separating lion and cattle and the insurance scheme seem like common sense ideas that work. There will always be a need for more measures and ideas because there is always more pressure on lions and tigers due to increasing human activity.

    • Wow great info Rudolph – it’s great hearing how things are manged in India. Seeing the snow leopards in their den makes me very sad. They are such wonderful and nice creatures and it breaks my heart to think how threatened they are – how the little ones might not live a full life because of humans. Whenever I see amazing and beautiful creatures it just makes me sad. Sorry to be such a downer.

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