In the video below, 13-year-old Richard Turere says quite explicitly that lions are his enemy. So why did he invent a simple LED-based invention that will help protect struggling lion populations? Well, because the LEDs keep the big cats from eating cows belonging to Richard’s family and neighbors in Nairobi National Park, which means fewer lions have to be killed to protect local livelihoods. Cows benefit, people benefit, and lions benefit too.
Lions are too smart to be scared off by scarecrows — Richard tried that, but the lions noticed that the figures weren’t moving and they ate the cows anyway. All lions fear, says Richard, is motion. So he hooked some LED lights up to old car parts — a battery and the thing that drives the turn signal — and arranged them around the area he wanted the lions to leave alone. Now the lights blink on and off, as if someone were walking around the cowshed with a flashlight.
The interaction between wildlife, livestock, and humans in Nairobi National Park is a tense one. In 2007, lions in the park were almost wiped out by farmers trying to protect their cattle. So Richard’s invention can do a lot to save the threatened species, without collapsing the local economy.
This ingenuity netted Richard a scholarship to one of the best schools in Kenya, and a standing ovation at TED Nairobi. He also has a really boss varsity jacket that as far as I can tell says “Bad Girls League,” but he probably had that before.
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