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The Chui Mamas of Koija

The Chui Mamas of Koija

Despite the collapse of wildlife tourism in a remote village, women in Koija have found alternative ways to survive Covid-19, and save their leopards. Paula Kahumbu documents their journey in a short video.


When Covid-19 struck Kenya in March 2020, the airports were closed and the entire country was put under curfew and the capital city of Nairobi went into lockdown. This was a deathblow for community women in rural areas whose income depended on sale of their crafts to tourists.  The industry predicted that in the absence of tourism, wildlife would suffer as poaching would explode and that iconic species like elephants and predators would be targeted in retaliatory killings in rural communities.

We visited Koija village in Laikipia County to document what was happening on the ground. What we found surprised us, the communities were taking extraordinary steps to stay safe and to protect the famous black leopards here.  

Paula Kahumbu is an ecologist and wildlife film maker who has turned the lens onto Kenya's conservation champions to tell their stories. As a National Geographic Explorer she has been traveling the length and breadth of her country Kenya to find stories of hope for conservation. This short film was funded by National Geographic..