A luncheon was held in Montecito this week to raise awareness of the plight of lions in Tanzania. Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld explained her efforts to help wildlife and humans co-exist.
Lalyl Lichtenfeld, co-founder and executive of the African People and Wildlife Fund, said wild cats that come into residential areas are being killed by villagers in retaliation for tearing up their homes. Her non-profit is putting up ‘living walls’ around communities, to prevent conflict with lions, enabling people, cattle and lions to live together.
Lichtenfeld explained the importance of community-based conservation in rural villages in Tanzania. She said the needs in each village are different. “We listen, we learn, we respond, customizing a plan to meet the needs of each community,” she said.
The New Jersey native who now lives in Tanzania has been interested in lions for most of her life.
“Ever since I was a little girl I had a love affair of wildlife and the outdoors. The lions were animals that I saw in statues and things, but I really wanted to see the wild ones out in east Africa. Finally I found my way there and heard them roar, and never turned back,” said Lichtenfeld.
Local resident Ann C. Smith held the luncheon for about 20 women in the backyard of her Montecito home. Smith is a champion of conservation efforts, helping a number of wildlife causes. Smith’s pet projects involve elephants. “We’re losing an elephant in the world every 15 minutes,” said Smith. “At that rate they’ll all be gone in ten years.”