News this week that a pride of lions—three lionesses and eight cubs—were poisoned in Uganda hit wildlife cameraman Alexander Braczkowski particularly hard. He cried. Now he’s crying out for help to prevent it from happening again.
Braczkowski, who had been filming the unique tree-climbing lions for six months for a special on Nat Geo Wild, understands why locals from the Hamukungu Fishing Village near Queen Elizabeth National Park would want to poison the lions.
“If one or two cows is all your family has, you’d probably also poison those lions because they’re your entire livelihood,” Braczkowski told National Geographic. “They’re your entire existence.”
So in an effort to avert future tragedies, Braczkowski launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds “to help compensate villagers for any cattle they lose to lions and so they become more tolerable to having them venture into the village.”
“The Kogere pride was poisoned because they ventured outside of the national park and attacked cattle in the Hamkungu village,” Braczkowski wrote. “Villagers here make just a few dollars a day and losing a cow can be devastating to a family’s income.”
Knowing compensation exists for cattle lost to lions, villagers will be less likely to kill the offending lions by giving them poisoned meat (as they allegedly did in this case) or by other means.
Funds would also help build fortified enclosures to protect cattle at night and to pay for GPS collars to put on the lions to track them, enabling officials to warn villagers when they’re near.
“A few small lion prides remain on the Kasenyi plains,” Braczkowski writes on his video. “Two of these regularly cross into the Hamukungu fishing village. If these lions eat livestock, there is a chance they too could be poisoned in retaliation. By compensating livestock farmers and fitting the lions with satellite collars we can help stop future poisoning events.”
Photos of tree-climbing lions used by permission of © Alexander Braczkowski.