December 2019 UPDATE: He’s back! More experienced and dedicated than ever. Go see what Marnus is up to now.
Breaking News September 2016! After three years of successful work saving lion, protecting cattle and making farmers happy the Walking For Lions team is making some changes. Click here for details.
Did you know that retaliation killing by humans is one of the leading causes of lion deaths in Africa, and that something as simple as a light bulb can help prevent that?
We were as surprised as you probably are to learn this.
Our friend Marnus Roodbol and his team at the nonprofit Walking For Lions are doing amazing work to create global awareness of the threats facing Lions in Africa. They are also among a few organizations that are doing new and different ways to prevent the human-lion conflicts that lead to these retaliatory killings.
Now you too can help protect the magnificent lion by contributing to their “Lights for Botswana” project. And because we at Nikela believe so strongly in this campaign, we ran a matching challenge and doubled your gift. (Although the matching goal has been reached your donation is still most welcome.)
Wild lion numbers have declined by 80-90% from a century ago, with only about 30,000 still living in the wild. The situation is a dire one. Many conservationists and biologists now believe that, at the current rate of decline, lions may be extinct as early as the year 2020.
Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of lion deaths – as much as 80% of their original stomping grounds has been taken over for human settlements. This has also led to a reduction in their prey and has brought them into much greater proximity with people.
The protected land left is small and very fragmented and the lions often leave the boundaries of their territory, either in search of another habitat area or to hunt for food. In doing so, they stray into villages where humans and livestock live together in protected family compounds which are known as ‘Kraals’ or ‘Bomas’.
Despite fortified fences and even compound walls, the livestock in these villages become easy prey for the hungry and adaptable lions. Villagers retaliate by trapping, shooting or poisoning the lions to prevent future attacks.
How Lights are a Simple Solution
Lions are wary of people and tend to avoid direct confrontation. They appear to associate lights moving around in the dark with humans walking round with a torch and usually steer clear.
Attaching lights to the perimeter of a Kraal (Boma) creates the impression that humans are patrolling the perimeter. Lions are deterred by the possibility of conflict and do not approach the compound or attack the livestock.
They are in turn safe as there is no cause for retribution from the local community.
About Walking For Lions and the Light up Botswana project
Marnus and his team at Walking For Lions protect wild lions. They work on the ground to safeguard the future of this iconic animal, for all of us and for subsequent generations. By studying and supporting the remaining lion population in Africa, Walking For Lions hopes to ensure their survival.
The “Light up Botswana” project is situated in areas that are not always the easiest to access. The goal is to keep lions away from Kraals (Bomas) during the night with the help of motion detection lights – if anything (including a lion) walks into the radius of the lights the spotlights go on.
Marnus and the team have installed more than 40 lights on 10 Kraals and it has been proven to deter predators for a certain time period. Lions have been seen moving around the lights and even testing them before giving up, so clearly they are trying to find a weak spot, but are deterred by the lights.
While further testing and fine tuning is required to be a 100% successful, so far it has been a huge help to the local farmers as they have seen significantly lower attacks at night on their Kraals. In fact since the lights were installed only one calf has been killed.
How You Can Help
Protect Lions now and for the Future
The goal of the project “Light Up Botswana” is to try and install more lights and protect both the livestock and the lions. It takes at least 4 lights for a smaller Kraal. The bigger the Kraal the more lights are required to make sure there are no “blind spots”.
One unit (light and solar panel) costs about 590 Rand / 50 USD / 44 EUR / 32 GBP.
100% of your gift (besides a small bank fee we can’t avoid) goes to Marnus and the team at Walking For Lions to buy all the equipment they can, to protect lions from these retaliatory killings.
Your contribution to this campaign can help reduce a major threat to the survival of the lion, ensuring that our children and grandchildren will have a chance to know and appreciate these beautiful and unique creatures.
Please also spread the word among your family, friends, and local community to make an even bigger impact in protecting these majestic animals.