Ruaha National Park in Tanzania may seem like a world away from Wisconsin. But Wauwatosa-native BenJee Cascio calls both of these places home.
As the human-wildlife conflict manager for the Ruaha Carnivore Project's Lion Defenders program, Cascio is working to shift cultural attitudes around lions. The Maasai and Barabaig tribes are nomadic pastoralists living near Ruaha. They have traditionally seen lions as predators that threaten their livestock and livelihood.
Managing that conflict involves many things, according to Cascio, like creating better enclosures for livestock and breaking the connection between lion spearing and prosperity in these tribes.
"We work with some of these young warriors and convert them into lion defenders. Instead of going out and traditionally spearing the lions, they now engage in activities to protect them," says Cascio.