#Run4Run4Lions » Carb Free Me
July, 2001 »» I’m 5’9”, 250-260 lbs. » 40” or 42” waist » 2XL t-shirt
This is my first San Diego Comic-Con with a booth. Hall H is still a parking garage. Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá sign their Roland comics with me. Brian Wood buys Silver Surfer comics from those bins on the right. I meet Bruno D’Angelo here, as he buys Spawn Series 19 – all the Samurai Spawns – from me. I meet Greg Rucka at this size, as he and Steve Lieber sign Whiteout at the booth. I’m large and in charge, a fanboy hog in his fanboy heaven.
July, 2013 »» I’m 5’9”, 148 lbs. » 28” waist » Small sleeveless tee
No Comic-Cons for me this year – no Surfer comics, no Spawn toys. This is my first Vertigo Night Run, a training race towards #Run4Run4Lions. The headlamp is brand new this day, never tested before scampering around dark desert mountain trails for 19 miles. I fall twice, brutally, bloodying my hands, left knee, and right shoulder. I worry that something in my left forearm/elbow is broken. I bruise the entire thickness of both feet. Meet my new heaven.
September, 2013 »» The Vertigo wounds are healed, even if the Comic-Con years left scars. Recurring stress dreams, unsold comics cluttering the house – these match the stretchmarks on my deflated-balloon of a belly. But for all my crazy mileage, I’m not running from my past. In fact, I embrace it. Why not? I finally ring the #Run4Run4Lions bell and ask for a little help – who steps up? Fábio and Bá, Brian, Bruno, and Greg. Waitaminute– where’s Lieber?!*
*In Steve’s defense, he’s put up with my crap since his Hawkman years!
#Run4Run4Lions » Flock Shock
On Saturday, I shared the story of Kofafeth, an injured lioness who killed a cow in order to survive. She was nearly killed herself, until the Ewaso Lions Project intervened. These conservation heroes stood between an angry mob of knife-wielding men and a severely wounded lion. Welcome to Africa’s bush.
National Geographic says, via interactive map, that African lion populations may be reduced to small ranges in just 8 countries by 2020: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.
Kenya — Leopard Kills 10 Sheep — No, this story isn’t about lions, but it is about dead livestock and the resulting angry humans. New animal husbandry techniques that protect a pastoral farmer’s flock from lions can also protect sheep from leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and other African carnivores.
Tanzania — Conservation Hero Awarded — This story provides hope, as a Living Walls program in the Maasai Steppe area of northern Tanzania receives accolades from Disney’s Conservation Fund. Living Walls protect a flock at night, incorporating native vegetation instead of harvested fence-posts.
Mozambique — 3 Lions Radio-Collared — Unfortunately, this pride’s number was reduced by 4 since 2008 as Niassa-area villagers baited snare-traps.
Zimbabwe/Botswana — Lions Wreak Havoc — This story proves that lions don’t care about human politics or borders. A donkey-killing pride of lions has crossed the border from Botswana into Zimbabwe, terrorizing villagers who are demanding government action. One herdsman survived an attack.
Namibia/Angola — Stretch Those Legs — Another border-hopping lion, Xpl-68, made history during his 15-day sojourn into Angola. Tracked via satellite by his Namibian collar, his 328K (203-mile!) trek was Angola’s first sighting of a lion in 23 years. He swam across the croc-infested Kunene River — twice!
South Africa — Lions Cause Traffic Jam — Light-hearted, perhaps, but it still points out that the buffers between humans and wildlife no longer exist.
Every story above broke within the last 7 days, easily discovered by a non-scientist who follows 10 or fewer conservation organizations on Twitter. 2020 is rapidly approaching, and a dwindling number of lions are clashing with a growing number of pastoralists in the few remaining “lion strongholds”.
That is why every Kofafeth is important, every Xpl-68, and the newly-collar M-pride in Niassa. For the farmers losing livestock, this is alarming and personal. For the researchers and first responders, like Ewaso Lions, like Elvis Kisimir, like Desert Lions, this must seem daunting. But please don’t give up.
Where there is traction and success in these stories, it stems from ongoing education. Open minds, learning as they teach, and teaching as they learn. Biologists and pastoralists, villagers and wardens — everyone communicating and ever-vigilant. Living life with lions — Welcome to modern Africa.
On Saturday 26 October, I’m running 100K (62 miles!) so that the Ewaso Lions Project can hold its 5th annual Running For Lions half marathon (13 miles!), a community event focused on reducing human/lion conflicts in the Samburu-area of northern Kenya. Thanks for reading and sharing!