Richard Turere lives in Kenya where conflict between lions and humans has resulted in many lion and livestock deaths. Livestock is a precious commodity for many herdsman, so when even one cow or goat is killed by a lion the economic impact is harsh. The thirteen-year-old Turere had an epiphany while guarding his father’s livestock that they don’t like moving light and will stay away from it. Initially he tried making fires to scare away the lions, but that only seemed to make it easier for them to hunt the livestock. Employing a scarecrow also failed.
So Turere started building a lighting system integrated into fencing, and that proved to be an effective way of keeping them at bay.
A non-profit focused on reducing conflict between people and wild lions was gathering data about farms and lion attacks when they noticed one farm near a national park seemed to have far fewer. Then they met Richard and found out about his home-made system, which can utilize solar panels to charge the battery that powers the fence lights.
The organization is called Wildlife Direct and they have been working with the Masaai herdsman for some time to reduce their livestock losses and protect lions for human attacks and poisonings. Lions are in danger of being driven into extinction in Kenya. The human population there has grown so quickly, there is less land available for lions and more livestock present, so they are drawn to the goats and cows as easy food sources. Richard has a blog on the conservation organization’s website.
The lighting system he created has been copied by a number of farms in his area, and they have helped reduce the number of lion attacks on livestock.
For his ingenuity, Richard was rewarded with an academic scholarship and now wants to be an engineer and a pilot. What he did might be described a design thinking. He was right at the source of the problem and directly involved, so he could make observations and try different solutions in the actual environment, instead of simply designing on paper or on a computer. Eventually, he came upon a solution and it turned out it was also replicable.
He was also invited to give a presentation at TEDx.