Not only does Richard’s invention protect his father’s cattle from lions, it is now used across Kenya to protect livestock from lions, hyenas, and other predators, and scare elephants away from cropland. (Photo by Paula Kahumbu)
“At the age of 6 to 9, I was responsible for my fathers cows,” says Richard Turere, now 13, and having just spoken in front of about 1500 people at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. “And these lions were very annoying, because they were killing my father’s cows.”
Taking his responsibility seriously, Richard set out to find a solution. First, he tried fires, but the fires seemed to make it easier for the lions. Next he tried setting up a scarecrow. It worked for the first night, he said, “but lions are very clever.”
Luckily aside from learning the countless traditional whistle commands a Maasai herder can use to control his cows, Richard Turere also had a hobby of taking apart electronics (such as his mother’s new radio) so still had a few tricks to try.
Noticing the lions would stay away when he walked around with a flashlight, he had a new idea: moving lights. With a few simple wires and bulbs, he rigged up a series of flashing lights, and went to bed. Soon there were 7 households in his community using his “lion lights.”
Richard’s diagram shows everything from solar panels harvesting energy, to a cow being protected by the lights. (Drawing by Richard Turere, Photo by Paula Kahumbu)
In the Masai community where 13-year-old Richard Turere lives, cattle are all-important. But lion attacks were growing more frequent. In this short, inspiring talk, the young inventor shares the solar-powered solution he designed to safely scare the lions away.
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