Richard Turere - Credits : from the TED video, ©TED Conferences, LLC

Richard Turere, 13, inventor of the "lion light"

Using solar energy to save lions and their prey.

On the outskirts of the Nairobi National Park in Kenya, the wild animals roam free. So free, in fact, that a lack of fencing on the park’s southern boundary has left the cattle of local Maasai herdsmen vulnerable to attack. That was before Richard, a normal teenager, had the idea of keeping them away by developing a flashing light powered by solar energy

A young genius

A solar panel, a car battery, a flashing LED bulb and a switch found, among other places, on a landfill site – that’s all Richard needed to create a transformer that could bring an end to a serious problem for the Maasai.
“From the age of six to nine, I looked after my father’s cattle,” Richard explains. Needless to say, the teenager is mature for his age. One morning, he discovered that the herd’s only bull had been killed in the night by lions – a problem not uncommon on neighboring farms. The Maasai count on their warriors, the Morans, to kill the lions threatening their only source of income. Richard knew there had to be solution to this unending war between man and beast. He started by trying to frighten the lions with fire. Quickly realizing that this actually helped them see into the cattle enclosure, he tried a scarecrow. That didn’t work either.

Richard is an ordinary teenager with an extraordinary talent for invention.

But Richard didn’t give up. One night, he was walking with a torch and not a single lion approached the enclosure. He decided that it was the moving light that had scared them away. Passionate about electronics, he put together a few bits and pieces and built a device that reproduced his movement. At nightfall, the small bulbs flashed, one after the other. Once again, the lions stayed away. Richard had invented “lion lights,” a machine that costs less than $10 and protects herds in an effective, lasting way, just as it does their predators.

Teenager Richard Turere has helped conserve Kenya’s wildlife

A promising future

It wasn’t long before word got out about this little prodigy. A lot of farms are now equipped with his invention, which not only keeps cattle safe from lions, hyenas and leopards, it also saves crops from trampling elephants.   
Richard was awarded a scholarship to study at the Brookhouse International School, one of Kenya’s most prestigious learning establishments. At Brookhouse, he gets the support he needs to develop his invention and to raise the awareness of the plight of his region’s cattle breeders.


Main picture: Richard Turere - Credits : from the TED video, ©TED Conferences, LLC

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