From her earliest recollection, Leela Hazzah has loved animals of all types. Still, she has been wildly infatuated with lions and elephants. She was raised in Egypt, where Barbary Lions lived before they became extinct. Leela took some time to sit with the host of the Explorers podcast, Richard Wiese and shared some insights into wildlife conservation.
After working in conservation for over twenty years, Leela has discovered that her most significant learning was from spending time living in the Maasai community. In the community, she has been recruiting traditional Maasai warriors to help with her efforts. As Executive Director of the Lion Guardian Program, Leela has learned Swahili and worked with the Maasai warriors. She tells us that the Maasai, the environment, and the lions all interact, and it’s a matter of finding and knowing where the balance lies.
She compares the adaptive behavior of the lions with the shifting paradigms for the Maasai. The lions are braver than they were when they were persecuted. On the other hand, women used to be attracted to a man who had killed a lion. Now, women are more attracted to a man who has a job. The warriors want to be involved with the lion project, and Leela trains them in leadership and develops the idea of running towards a challenge.
As she works with partners throughout the Serengeti, she explains that we must embrace diversity if we want to get things done. We don’t have time for any other option.
To learn more about Leela Hazzah and her work with the Lion Guardian Program, visit their website. To hear about other explorers, join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: Explorers are TOUGHER!! At https://www.lifestough.com/podcast/explorers/.
Richard Wiese, the host of this podcast, is an American explorer. He is the author of the guidebook, Born to Explore: How to Be a Backyard Adventurer. He became the youngest person to become president of the Explorers Club in 2002. Richard is also Executive Producer and Host of the PBS weekly television series Born to Explore with Richard Wiese.