The Wildlife Foundation is based in Nairobi, the world’s only capital with a national park, where wild lions, rhinos and other beasts roam free against the urban backdrop of skyscrapers rising from the nearby bustling city center. Each year, thousands of camera-toting tourists visit the park—which is fenced along its northern boundary but open in the south—hoping to catch a glimpse of the lions inhabiting its rolling plains
But for the pastoralists and Maasai tribes around the park, a lion sighting is usually bad news; valuable livestock are often lost to lions looking for easy prey, prompting rural communities to take matters into their own hands. The rising human-wildlife conflict, coupled with a fast-growing urban encroachment, means that Kenya is now home to less than 2,000 lions, a massive drop compared to the 15,000 that lived there just a decade ago.
Large sums have been spent in recent years by officials in a bid to protect the lions and strengthen Kenya’s tourism industry. Yet conservationists say that many of these top-down initiatives fail to gain traction with local populations.
A local Maasai youth living in Kitengela and having grown up as a herder, has invented a home grown, simple, affordable and effective solution to protecting his family’s cattle.
Recognizing that moving lights scared lions, Turere has developed a system of 10 to 20 battery powered flashing lights attached to the fencing protecting the cattle at night. These lion lights have resulted in no loss of cattle and no lion attacks since being installed in over 25 “bomas” in Kitengela.
Indeed, several neighbors of the Turere family in Kitengela have sought Turere’s help, asking him to install the system in their enclosures. In total, around 25 “Lion Light” systems have so far been rigged up around the wildlife dispersal area.
The Wildlife Foundation has recently embarked on a Lions Light maintenance program training community electricians to maintain and repair the lights A survey of 25 Lion Lights systems has been undertaken with plans to install 25 more at bomas in Triangle 1 of the Kitengela Conservation Area.
The Wildlife Foundation is proud to support this young 14-year-old’s local innovation protecting both the bovine assets of Maasai households and the natural Lion treasures of Kenya.