Kenyan boy invents system to protect cattle from lion attacks

Richard Turere is a 13 year old Maasai boy who, since age nine, has had to help protect the family cattle herd from lions. But there's only so much you can do to keep a lion from eating a cow, and often the lions would attack in the middle of the night when there was no way to stop them. However, Richard noticed that if he walked around the cattle pen with a flashlight, the lions would stay away, so a couple of years ago, he came up with an automated lighting system to deter the attacks.

Richard's Lion Lights use LED flashlights rigged up to a car battery and some switches that flash the lights in random patters to simulate the effect of somebody walking with a light around the cattle pen. Since he rigged up the system there hasn't been a single lion attack. What's really impressive is that Richard figured out how to wire the system up with no electronics training of any kind, he just tinkered with things until it all worked. He even included a solar panel that recharges the battery during the day under the bright African sun.

Richard's ingenuity impressed local conservationists so much, that they arranged for him to get a scholarship at the prestigious Brookhouse International School so he could continue his studies. They feel that Richard's Lion Lights could help to save Kenya's shrinking lion population, by convincing farmers to stop killing the animals to protect their livestock.

Richard has been invited to be a guest speaker at next week's TED 2013 Conference in California. It's all pretty heady stuff for a 13 year old cattle herder from Kenya.


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