"Living with Lions"
MPIMBWE, WESTERN TANZANIA, OCTOBER 2012: Lion Dancers from the Sakuma tribe perform the story of their lion killing outside a village in rural Mpimbwe, Western Tanzania, October 27, 2012. Lion dancers are men who have killed a lion in defense of their cattle or their village. They are a deeply superstitious people who believe that once they have killed a lion they have to become a lion dancer for 3 to 5 years to avoid going mad. They spend a year or longer preparing with the local witchdoctor and then go from village to village seeing their relatives and dancing while collecting tribute for their bravery. In a time when lion are very scarce in the region, this practice is actively discouraged by conservation organizations and it is slowly dying out. It is illegal in Tanzania. When the dancers appear in the villages, they are often praised and given money, goats and even sometimes a small cow. It is therefore something that some young men aspire to, even going as far as to venture into the local Katavi National Park in pursuit of a lion.