XV: Congratulations on your selection to join the African Leadership University. What does it mean for you as a conservationist?
RT: thank you this selection means that my conservation work is being recognised and is a motivation for me to work even harder in my conservation efforts.
XV: You met Jack ma, did you talk about conservation?
RT it was a very humbling experience to meet Jack Ma. He was really interested in my innovation. We talked for about thirty minutes before we went to the main auditorium at the University of Nairobi where I had the privilege of welcoming him on stage. We are still in touch to date.
XV: You were working with wildlife direct and gearbox to come up with a new and refined light system, how far are you?
RT: First of all, I would like to thank wildlife direct for helping me make my invention big. Yes, I have been working with gearbox and wildlife direct to improve on the current light system. In the near future I would also work with the youths from the community to mass produce the lights. This will be as a way of giving back to the community.
XV: There are homes that still don’t have the lights, what’s your advice to them?
RT: It saddens me to know that in Kenya only 750 homes have this lights system. I would encourage people without lights to install them. It only costs 200$ and have a working life span of up to 3 years.
XV: What’s your thought about the Standard Gauge Railway that runs through the Nairobi national park given that we already have seen lions killed on the line?
RT: It is sad that the government only sees the national park in terms of monetary value and not as a great treasure that should be guarded at all costs. The railway has already tempered with the ecosystem of the park. Animals no longer move freely within the park. It is going to take time before the animals get used to the railway being there. If at all the will ever get used to it. It was a mistake to construct the railway through the park.
XV: There was an incident where a giraffe was electrocuted to death; do you think this would have been evaded?
RT: The government through the Kenya power and lighting company when connecting electricity to homes should bear in mind that animals migrate to and from the park. When they put low electric poles, they interfere with migratory routes of these animals. Giraffes have poor night vision and since they travel at night it’s had for them to see the power lines. If the power line must pass there, then at least they should put high where animals can not reach.
XV: Are the victims of attacks from wildlife compensated?
RT: There has been no compensation from the government since 2012. I don’t even think the government has a compensation plan. I have had that KWS plans to fence off the park, I asked myself which is easier, to fence the park or compensate the victims.
XV: Do you think the government through KWS should be helping you distribute the lights to communities?
RT: The government ought to help me in distributing the lights. It is because of these lights that the human wildlife conflict has reduced significantly. Like I said before in Kenya only 750 homes have the lights. If only the government could help, then more homes would have the lights and help reduce the conflicts further.
XV: Should the southern part of the Nairobi national park be fenced?
RT: Yes. It should be fenced off. But before it’s fenced off, there is a lot we would like the government to do, compensate our livestock, ensure all the animals in the community land are driven back to the park, which is next to impossible. No wild animal should be found on the community land as it would be considered trespass.
As we speak right now people from the community around the park are not farmers because the farms have been eaten up by wild animals, nor are they livestock keepers and this is because their livestock has been eaten by lions. So we are left with nothing.
XV: How has your life changed since your invention?
RT: I have a wide network of friends, friends I never imagined I could ever get. From Paula kahumbu to my classmates at Brooke house and many others. I have also learnt photography where I tell stories through wildlife photography. As you know a picture is worth a thousand words.
XV: Does your work get any press coverage from the local media?
RT: No. In fact, am known outside the country than am known locally. That explains why less than eight hundred homes have these lights here in Kenya whereas countries in the rest of Africa, Asia and even South America are fully using the lights.
X V: What are you doing to encourage people from the community to conserve wildlife and especially the endangered lions?
R T: I tell fellow pastoralists killing lions is not and will never be the solution. Those without the lion lights should try as hard to ensure they get them. The government too aught to come with a plan to assists those who can’t afford to buy the lights.
XV: Do you still want to be a pilot?
RT: No. I want to focus on conservation. I feel like there are not enough voices that speak the language of conservation. If things continue like this, then we won’t have Nairobi national park in the next ten years. I also plan to join politics some day and lead concersavation efforts in parliament.
XV: what’s next for you?
RT: Am currently looking for funds so that I can build a community workshop where I’ll teach the local youth on how to produce the lights. The workshop will also will be an incubation centre where we shall to ensure the youth realise their dreams.