Lion hunters in Tanzania were traditionally rewarded for their kills, as villagers regarded lions as threats to their lives and livestock. But anthropologists have noticed a shift in the way these so-called "lion dancers" are treated: Far from giving the killers cattle or other gifts, Tanzanians are now admonishing the hunters, who will travel into a protected habitat to kill lions.
"The hunters are going deep into the national park, the border of which is 8 to 10 miles away" from villages, states Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis.
Tanzanians aren't above a bit of name-calling to shame the lion killers. Borgerhoff Mulder and her colleagues report that villagers call the lion dancers "wafeki," which is "a ki-swinglish neologism implying they are cheats meriting no reward."
Of the households visited by hunters, most -- 75 percent -- are still rewarding the lion dancers. But the villagers also believe that hunting has changed, with 72 percent saying that the lion killers are motivated by wealth.
"People are saying they are cheats and are not going to give them gifts any longer. The community has found a reason for policing itself," Borgerhoff Mulder says. "This is a rare instance of wildlife conservation and community actions working in tandem."