Richard was the youngest patent holder in Kenya at 12 years old. What the founder of Lion Lights started as a local solution to keep predators away from farms, became a global sensation.
A search on Google on him returns what looks like a life album. There are hundreds of images of an adolescent Richard with a babyish face, as a teenager herding cattle and as a young adult giving a TED Talk.
He attended Brookouse School and later graduated from the African Leadership University where he studied wildlife conservation.
"Lion Lights is way bigger than me. It is being implemented in six countries. We have installed Lion Lights in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. It has gone as far as Argentina."
In August, he launched his book Lion Lights: My Invention that made Peace with Lions in the US. If he were a wild animal, he would be a leopard. “Like a leopard, I am a low-key person. I like to work quietly without drawing attention to myself.”
With his ground-breaking innovation, however, it has not been entirely possible to stay away from the limelight.
Richard has met Barack Obama and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and has been featured by every major news outlet in the world. He is among the few adolescents to ever give a TED Talk. Would there be a Richard without Lion Lights? “Yes, but I would be back in the village herding my family’s livestock as any young Maasai man.”
“We were losing about 100 lions every year. Studies have shown that without different interventions to minimise human-wildlife conflict, the lion population would probably have been wiped out by now.”
When the innovation went global, the brand left his hands. ‘‘Lion Lights is way bigger than me. It is being implemented in six countries. We have installed Lion Lights in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. It has gone as far as Argentina.’’
What would he change about Kenya if he could? ‘‘Our leadership. That is where it all starts. This country deserves good leadership to adequately plan for issues such as drought.’’
He hopes to have all Kenyans able to access education one day. ‘‘Few members of my community are well educated. It is through education that smaller communities can fend off marginalisation.’’
Any prized possession? ‘‘I cannot think of any besides Lion Lights. This is my child whom I have raised for a decade through its different evolutions.’’
His biggest fear is the devastation of nature by climate change. ‘‘The death of wildlife in our parks from starvation worries me. We have lost a lot of wildlife in the last few months. We must act with speed to slow down climate change to preserve our heritage.’’