Retaliatory killing of lions is one of the leading causes of their decline. Lights are a simple solution to preventing these deaths
The death of Cecil the lion is just one more devastating reminder of the dangers facing one of the most iconic and majestic creatures in the wild. With the heartbreak of his death though, comes a hope that the outpouring of emotions and opinions from people across the world will spark real conversations and action to protect the lion and other wildlife. Some of the biggest threats lions face are familiar ones – habitat loss, poaching, and trophy hunting (as exemplified by recent news). But one unique and relatively lesser known, yet equally devastating threat is from retaliatory killing of lions.
Starting as far back as 15000 years ago in cave painting and Egyptian sculptures and all the way to its present day depictions in brand logos and mascots, the lion has been recognized, represented, and revered through the years and throughout the world as a being of majesty, beauty and quiet power. You would think that an animal as well known and celebrated as the lion, would be living in splendor in the wild, protected and respected by all of us who admire them so. Not so much.
The number of lions in the wild has dropped so significantly, as much as 90% in the last century, that this beautiful creature could be extinct by 2020. Up to 80% of the lions’ original habitat has been lost to human settlements, and as a result their prey has dropped significantly too. So when they leave their small remaining territory for food, they often wander into villages with livestock. The hungry lions attack the livestock, which make for easy prey, and the local community retaliates by killing them. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
There are a few small and passionate organizations that are tackling the problem through direct and on the ground action. Walking For Lions, a nonprofit in Africa started by Marnus Roodbol, is one of those. As the name implies, Walking For Lions’ motto is to walk the walk of protecting these magnificent creatures, not just talking about it.
One of their recent projects is focused on solving the issue of retaliatory killings by humans. Building on the success of a young inventor in Africa, they are installing lights on the boundary walls of “Kraals/Bomas” which are family compounds where humans and livestock live together. The lights deter the lions, who think they are humans with torches, from attacking the livestock. This in turn means that they are safe from retaliation. A seemingly simple yet effective solution to reducing lion deaths.
Now you too can help support this initiative by donating to Walking for Lions’ “Light Up Botswana” project. This month Nikela is featuring a matching challenge, with 100% of donations going to the cause. Check out the details on the campaign page – Help Protect Lions from Extinction
Let’s all pitch in to save this most beautiful and distinct of all creatures and ensure that lions will continue to be a symbol of quiet strength and natural leadership for centuries to come.
Sadly due to circumstances beyond his control Marnus had to withdraw for a season.