Flashing LEDs Protect Livestock From Lion Attacks

When we think of defense against lion attacks, the first thought is usually guns. Lots and lots of guns.  [Richard Turere], a 13 year old Kenyan tinkerer with neither books nor any technical education, has come up with something entirely different – He’s keeping the lions at bay with a solar powered system of flashing LEDs. Yup. Flashing LEDs.

Since he and his family live next to Nairobi National Park, lion attacks are an ever present danger. The only defense systems available were far too expensive for his family to afford, so he decided to build his own. He utilized the basic resources he had readily available: LED bulbs removed from broken flashlights, some switches, an old car battery, wire, and a solar panel that also operates his family’s TV.

The results speak for themselves. His family has had no lion attacks in over two years, and at least five of his neighbors believe in the system enough to have had him install it on their fences too. With the cost for this set up at less than ten dollars, and all the parts being readily available, this rather basic electrical system is an amazing breakthrough for the Kenyan pastoralists.

We look forward to seeing more of [Richard’s] inventions. Way to go!

50 thoughts on “Flashing LEDs Protect Livestock From Lion Attacks

    1. the hell?

      1. Someone that never did something thought of something innovating and people shouldn’t promote them?

      2. Transformers?!? Where the hell is transformers said? I ctrl+f on both this headline and the article and found no word of it. WTF is up with this random shit? OOOHHHHH wait…. I get it! It’s like some kind of game! Here I wana play!

      Poor people should stop being poor, also code in z80 asm doesn’t work on x86s.

      1. Check the summary:

        “…and a solar panel that also operates his family’s TV.”

        Which means the solar panel most likely has a built-in inverter, producing AC.

        So the schematic’s better than your reading. ;)

      1. Faso, as pointed out a transformer can work with DC… if that dc signal is pulsed. You might want to see the standard ignition coil for a good example. transformers are not only for AC. A good critic should understand what he is criticising first.

    2. he is NOT english as a first language, and the translation from various terms could easily turn into the word “transformer”

      like converter, power-regulator ect

      remember a power regulator/converter really DOES transform power in a way, it transforms it from unreg. to reg. :D so true but out of our regular techno-speak

      so the transformer could even just be resistors.
      or maybe his transformer is the converter he would be using for the TV, remember how he says “one” battery? its either a 12v tv or he is using an “inverter”, hmm it does have a transformer of sorts inside!

      you try translating it better, lets see what you come up with

      –>> translate is back into his language, then take those words and re-translate it back to english. i bet its not the same! XD cheers

      1. I was thinking the same thing. There is certainly no need to criticize this kid for his work. Hacking isn’t about KNOWING everything when you start, it’s about being bold enough to try it in the first place, not being afraid of making mistakes, and learning as you go. This lad’s work should indeed be celebrated!

  1. Without wanting to take anything away from the achievements of the inventor, I see a problem with the solution he has come up with, if widely deployed.

    I hate to be that guy, but this puts me in mind of the story of the snake oil salesman. Before you shout me down, read it, and think:


    All this does is shift the lions to other farms which don’t have the lights. There is no actual protection that prevents the lions from attacking the cattle.

    When all the farms have the lights, the lions will have two options: Revert to going after wild animals, or find a solution to the “flashing light problem”. I suspect it might be the latter, and then they are back where they started, having spent money (albeit a small amount) on a system that doesn’t actually protect them.

    1. Interesting idea, you could be right if it’s widely implemented.

      I think the lions are either dazzled, or they associate the light with hunters. Either way it won’t take long before they take risks and ignore the lighting system in search for food

      1. If they break the hunter/light association, the lions would start getting shot, reinforcing that association and reducing numbers at the same time.

        There would be a spike in incidents as the lions invaded the “protected” pens, followed by a dip as they started getting killed off or got renewed reinforcement that lights == bad.

  2. I, for one, was hoping that this was going to be a finely tuned rate of blinking LEDs that sent attacking lions into violent seizures.

    My expectations weren’t that high, but my hopes certainly were. Nice job either way. Even though I agree this falls under the snake oil salesman scenario, it is still pretty effective. Just don’t spread the word about your invention so there is always “bait” living nearby.

  3. Amazing how this resourceful child found a way to live another day – hopefully until a viable permanent solution is found. While the point is valid, it is unfortunate to taint his success with the negative “snake oil” connotation…

  4. Perhaps a building like a barn to house the livestock securely at night? Mudbrick walls and a wooden roof.
    Also raise goats then release them for the lions to fill up on so they don’t hassle the cows.
    I am glad things are safer for them and their cows either way and good for the kid for tinkering :)

  5. good idea.

    and for the record, most modern TV’s can work just fine on hivoltage DC.

    BUT, check for a small low-power ac60hz standby transformer FIRST! newer tv’s usually do not have them. if it has a 60hz standby transformer, the tv can NOT use DC. if there is a 30khz SMPS standby transformer, then it CAN use DC

    just need to multiply the AC voltage by ~1.414 and thats the DC voltage needed.



  6. Wish there was a picture of the control box. Kind of curious on how he sequenced the lights. As far as the use of the word transformer I suspect it’s the language barrier or just an lack of knowledge of electronics. As far as their tv is concerned it is probably similar to a tv that one would take camping. I suspect that it is powered by 12 volts dc thus the car battery and solar panel.

    Clever kid.

    1. for sure. I need to get some solar panels for a small project I want to do, but I’ve been lazy and putting it off. Cleaning out the garage, though, so I’ll have a workspace.

  7. Someone should offer a “recycle your broken solar light” service, a lot of the time the expensive parts such as the LED and solar cell(s) are fine.
    Even corroded PCBs can often be repaired with vinegar+peroxide+grain salt trick.

    I tried this on a “dead” bike light and a phone, both are still working fine.

      1. This does work, you just have
        to make sure you DI water rinse
        then flush with IPA then dry.
        The salt is an activator, as it
        doesen’t neutralise the vinegar
        like bicarbonate does.
        Any other salt such as KCI should
        also work and be a bit kinder to
        the PCB tracks.

  8. After reading the comments so far, good, bad, and inappropriate, I have a slightly different view of this hack. Being a young child with limited resources and education, he saw a problem, thought about a solution, and implemented a plan.
    I think that the overarching lesson is that we, as humans, have the ability to be creative and solve problems. Whether it is in Africa, India, China, or anywhere else, we have a gift to be able to adapt and to be inventive. Let’s celebrate the gift and consider what we have all accomplished.

  9. I’d be curious to know how long till
    “Habituation” occurs amongst the Lions.

    Speaking from a humans standpoint:
    seems like every other
    trash can, wheelbarrow
    potatoe chip or cookie disaply,
    kiddie toy, bicycle vest,
    protester, hipster
    bus, sidewalk barricade….etc
    has to have a blinky thingy nowdays.

    Oh, and getting stuck in that stupid, friggin nascar week traffic
    behind some jerk with a 3rd eye brake light mod,
    that flickers again every damn time you roll a half inch.

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