The Maasai Games

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It’s called the Maasai Olympics, a biennial event in Kenya that uses traditional sport to help save one of the country’s most important animals.

For generations, the only way for Maasai boys to prove their manhood and become a warrior was to kill a lion. But with the animal’s population dropping by a third in the past two decades, the tribe has adopted a modern interpretation of their ancient tradition.

Maasai David Rudisha the Olympic 800m gold medalist and world record holder is leading the campaign to swop spearing for sport. ‘I’m happy to come here and be a part of my people, and to try and educate them about not killing the wild animals, because we get a lot of benefits from it,’ Rudisha told AFP.

The event started two years ago when the inaugural games were sponsored by the African Wildlife Foundation with support from local partners. The concept for the games came from the cultural fathers of the warriors and on the day 25 Maasai athletes from the four warrior villages of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem (representing nearly 80,000 Maasai people) participated in a day of competitive sports. The five events—which included such competitions as javelin throw, running events, and high jumping—were based on the basic Maasai warrior skills of hunting, running, herding, and even dancing.

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