13-year old invents tool for lion conservation

WildlifeDirect, with funding from the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, is looking for ways to reduce the mortality of lions due to human wildlife conflict. The organisation found something surprising: a 13-year old Kenyan boy has made an invention that keeps not only lifestock but also lions safe.

The Turere Family live in Empakasi, right on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, just south of the City of Nairobi. Richard is responsible for herding his family the livestock and keeping them safe from predators, especially lions, but being so close the park puts this family’s cattle right in the path of lions and every month they lost cows, sheep and goats.

At the age of 11 Richard decided to do something about his family’s losses. He observed that the lions never struck the homesteads when someone was awake and walking around with a flashlight. Lions are naturally afraid of people. He concluded that lions equate torches with people so he took the led bulbs from broken flashlights and rigged up an automated lighting system of four or five torch bulbs around the cattle stockade. The bulbs are wired to a box with switches, and to an old car battery charged with a solar panel that operates the family Television set.

The lion lights don’t point towards the cattle, or on any property, but outwards into the darkness. They flash in sequence giving the impression that someone is walking around the stockade. In the two years that his lion light system has been operating, the Turere family has had no predation at night by lions.

To Richard he was just doing his job – protecting the herds. His father is beaming, stock thieves will also think twice about visiting a homestead where it appears as if someone is awake. Six of the neighbours noticed that they were getting hit by lions but not the Turere homestead. Richard has already installed the lion lights system in their bomas too. For conservation and human wildlife Conflict management, this simple innovation is a fantastic breakthrough.

Richards invention is cheap, local, cost effective and easy and quick to install and to maintain. The National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, WildlifeDirect and Friends of Nairobi Park are now looking at how to scale up the use of lion lights which can be used in combination with fences and other deterrents.

Read the complete and interesting article on the site of WildlifeDirect , where you can also make a donation (for this project).

Photo’s are from the site of WildlifeDirect, which is trying to save endangered animals. WildlifeDirect’s mission is to connect conservationists in the frontline with those who care about wildlife worldwide. To enable them interact and help each other, allowing anyone in the world to support the work of these conservationists. WildlifeDirect allows conservationists to raise funds for their work anyone to give any amount of money to support conservation of endangered wildlife in Africa, Asia and South America.


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