Ever think what Africa would be with no lions? Not as long as people like Marnus are protecting them in Botswana.
Sing with me.
“Lions and tigers and bears…Oh my! Lions and tigers and bears…Oh my!”
What if I told you in only a few short years from now that we might be singing a different tune?
…tigers and bears, and what? No Lions? Oh My!
Not if Marnus Roodbol has anything to say about it.
Marnus is the founder of Walking For Lions (WFL) a nonprofit/conservation organization whose sole purpose is to insure that there will be wild lions when this decade is over.
“The facts are these lions are declining at such a pace. We will have nothing left in a few years,” Marnus says on the site’s home page. He explains how dire the situation is…
“In five to ten years wild lions will be gone. The continent’s lion population has shrunk by 75 percent in the past two decades, according to wildlife experts.”
Translation: Only about 30,000 lions are still living in the wild. If the trend continues at this accelerated rate, many conservationists and biologists believe that lions may be extinct as early as 2020. Yes, that’s only four years from now.
So, the time to act is now.
To put it in Marnus’ words, it is no longer time: To talk, just walk!
Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of lion deaths–mostly in the remote and rural areas of Botswana. It’s estimated as much as 80% of their domain has been taken over by man, either by farms, or surprisingly, safari lodges. This domination of man over the lion’s turf, has led to a decline in available prey for the carnivorous mammal. As a result, this has brought them into “much greater proximity with people” along with their livestock (cattle and goats), that the lion finds easier to hunt and kill.
Not surprisingly, the farmers don’t like this and find themselves in the unenviable position of either shooting the lions or poisoning entire prides to save their animals.
As long has lions and man continue to share the same land, there will inevitably be more conflicts, and sadly, more deaths to both livestock and lions alike. In turn, finding a solution so that farmers (their livestock), predators and prey can all live cooperatively with one another is paramount.
One solution has been with lights. Strategically placed along Kraals/boma fences, lights seem to deter the lions and keep the cattle and goats safe. The lights create an illusion that humans are patrolling the perimeter. Lions, wary of people confrontation and possible conflict, do not approach the farm or attack the animals.
So, with no lions stalking farms there are no farmers killing lions to protect their livestock.
Enter Marnus and his team at Walking For Lions.
The goal of their “Light UP Botswana” project is an easy one.
Keep the lions away from farms at night with the aid of motion detection lights. If anything (lion or person) walks into the radius of the lights, they come on, and the lion runs off. Yes, it’s that simple.
Since last year, Roodbol and his dedicated Walking For Lions team, have installed more than 40 lights on 10 Kraals. Unfortunately, this may only be a temporary solution. Recently, its been reported that the lions have been seen moving around the lights in attempt to avoid triggering them. So far however, Marnus and his team are constantly finding ways to stay one step ahead of the lions. To this point, the lights seem to be working in the majority of cases and have been a huge help (and relief) to local farmers. Many have reported significantly less attacks at night on their Kraals, and only one calf has been killed since the lights were installed.
While adjustments and tweaking of the project is constantly necessary for the long term, it is important to note that for now, the lions are deterred by the lights, and many animals lives are being saved by something as simple as a light bulb.
One possible adjustment is to install more lights. The more lights, the less chance for a lion to “escape” the limelight.”
Does one lion life really matter?
For Marnus and his committed team at Walking For Lions, the answer in collective and resounding YES!
Lions just like Elephants, Rhino and Leopard are the Icons of Africa, and can be seen in various aspects, from the flags of some countries to the mark on money on others. They do not only serve as an icon, but can be seen as the last hope for this planet. If one looks at a lion, it is the symbol of strength, power, hope and future. It is a species, an icon, that demands automatic respect.
So, what does the future hold for the majestic lion?
If Marnus Roodbol has anything to say about it (and if we rally around Walking For Lions and help) it will never be a sad “Oh My!”
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Wendy Sotos
Helping out is easy.
[100% of your charitable donation goes to help save lions]