Affordable light system to save both livestock and predators
In Kenya, lion numbers plummeted from 15 000 to 2 500 within two decades, placing Africa’s largest land predator on a path to extinction. Poaching has taken its toll on the lion population, and a loss of habitat has led to conflict between lions and humans as the predators turn to livestock for prey. Turere is from the Maasai community in Kitengelaand was responsible for protecting his family’s cattle from age nine. At one point, lions killed around nine cows a week and Turere became determined to find a solution. He noticed that lions would not approach the stables if he were there with his flashlight checking on the cattle and realised that he needed to trick the predators into thinking that he was always nearby.
Turere began experimenting with different electrical appliances to create an LED flashing light system that deters lions from approaching and attacking animal enclosures. The invention was originally an indicator box that could only turn lights on and off, so Turere continued to refine it by programming unique light sequences to prevent lions from learning the patterns. The system primarily uses solar energy and can be combined with wind energy for cloudy conditions. Placing the lights around an animal enclosure about 15 metres apart and using them to mimic human movement successfully scares lions away from livestock.
Local solution, global impact
In 2013, he established the Lion Lights organisation to deploy the automated lighting system in areas where human-wildlife conflict often results in the retaliatory killing of predators. Today, his invention is used in more than 2000 homes in Kenya, as well as in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Argentina and India. The system has been shown to deter a range of wild animals including leopards, pumas, hyenas and even elephants. While lions are still listed as vulnerable, their numbers in Kenya have increased thanks to local conservation efforts and Lion Lights.
Turere’s story caught the attention of TED Talks where he spoke at age 13. He won a scholarship to study A-Levels at Brookhouse school and later completed a bachelor’s degree in global challenges and wildlife conservation. Turere’s success can be attributed to unwavering determination: “I want this story to inspire the young kids that they too can do something. If I did it coming from this community with no education, and no resources whatsoever, then anyone can make it. Anyone can change this world.”
Working towards UN Sustainable Development Goals
The invention helps to protect the livelihoods of farmers whose livestock provide vital sustenance and income for communities. Crucially, it also reduces the retaliatory killings of predators such as lions, contributing to UN SDG 15 (life on land), which includes protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
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