Kenyan Teen’s Invention Protects Cattle And Lions

Lion Scarecrow

[Richard’s] community in Kenya had a problem. The people depended on local livestock for survival, but the local lion population had started consuming that very same food source. The result was that people suffered from loss of the livestock, but the lions also suffered when the people killed them to protect their source of food. [Richard] knew he could do something to help both his community, and the lion population. He ended up building a lion attack prevention system.

He first tried a sort of scarecrow, to keep the lions away from the cattle. Unfortunately the lions proved to be too “tricky” and quickly realized that the scarecrows were no threat. Then one day, [Richard] was working with a flashlight. This led him to realize that the lions seemed to be afraid of moving light. That gave him the idea for his invention.

He had previously taken apart his mothers new radio, much to her dismay. He learned a lot about electronics in the process. He combined his electronics knowledge with this new knowledge about lions, to create his lion attack prevention system. The core component is the turn signal circuit from a motorbike. The circuit is hooked up to a rechargeable battery and a solar cell. This all runs through a switch so [Richard] can turn it on only when needed. The circuit is switched on at night to keep the lions away. [Richard] claims that they have experienced no lion attacks since the system was put in place two years ago!

This protects both the local cattle as well as the lions themselves. The whole thing is powered from the sun, so it’s likely to last a very long time. This kind of project may seem simple to many readers, but it’s a great example of the good ideas and ingenuity that can grow out of necessity. Oh, did we mention that [Richard] is only 13 years old? His invention is now reportedly being used all over Kenya and has led [Richard] to receive a scholarship to what he calls “one of the best schools in Kenya”.

While this hack has clearly changed the lives of many people in [Richard’s] region. You don’t have to make something overly complicated to change the world.

[ted id=1699]

[Thanks Keith]

36 thoughts on “Kenyan Teen’s Invention Protects Cattle And Lions

      1. 1. Who said it sucked?
        2. What does that have to do with HaD recycling content without updating for any new information?

        This gets my vote for most off based criticism of the day.

    1. *shrugs* First time I’ve seen it… if they hadn’t reposted, I never would have, and I would’ve missed it and been totally unaware. My Hackaday search-shovel doesn’t dig down that far ;)

      This is pretty cool IMO. Whodathunkit — lions are scared of blinkies! Simple, fairly low-tech solution to a complicated problem, thought up by a young teen. To be fair, as pointed out in the other post, the solution may not be a *permanent* solution — but it works for now and that’s a good thing.

      The fact that it’s a repost is definitely in the category of “first world problems”, and is also well within the Zone Of Appropriateness For Descending Pixellated Sunglasses. The actual *content* of the repost, though? I agree with Frank, above — “totally awesome” ;)

      Good work, Richard. We need more folks like you and William Kamkwamba.

      1. I agree about reposts – it seems those who are the loudest complaners seek only to show how long they’ve been around. HaD is always getting new readers, so reposts can serve as a good reminder if you’ve been around for a while.

    2. I think this is what is missing in today’s news report: Follow ups.

      Although HAD is definitely not a news agency, I definitely like to like to know how things turn out some times.
      Especially with long term and experimental projects.

      1. I agree. Lions figured out the scarecrow. Eventually, I suspect, a hungry enough cat will test the system that extra bit that’ll give up the game, escalating the battle of wits. Better than the alternative!

        1. That’s when an electric fence would come in handy. I wonder how easilyy you could make one? You could wind the transformer (a real one!) yourself. Maybe adjust a motorbike turn-signaller to work a bit faster, and pulse DC through that. Maybe even knock up a home-made relay in self-buzzing mode, even the back-emf from one can give you a nip, so if it was a BIG relay…

    1. ok, there was no mention of this in the ‘schematic’, but the article speaks of a ‘turn signal circuit’ which is then presumably used to ‘modulate’ the DC. So only on the square wave transients is the transformer actually transforming, and probably radiating lots of RF via the fence. And 99% of the time it’s just heating up the coils. While it’s an ok achievement for a high-school student, it’s actually really terrible at what it’s supposed to do. A $20 inverter from and a LP filter built from passive components would already go a long way to improve this setup.

      1. ok, lol .. after watching the video, i now know there is NO transformer. it’s just the ‘turn signal circuit’ that’s pulsing DC to the fence. He calls it a transformer, which it clearly is not.

      1. In many poor parts of Africa, a “leader” is just the guy with the most guns and the biggest army of horribly abused children. Same for “politicians”. Corruption is the norm.

        If businessmen from, say, China, decide to arm and finance a local warlord, the warlord / “leader” will be the guy who decides who can access resources. Resources that local Africans wouldn’t have the equipment and money to access themselves.

        Businessmen from rich countries have been supporting this, as well as toppling democratic governments (via “rebels”) and turning countries into gangster nations, for decades. I know cos Britain is a prime culprit.

        That, and extortionate loans, signed by gangsters and unstable warlords, lent by gigantic banks, and left to be paid back by the populace. A bank approaches whichever violent lunatic, lends them money for arms and palaces, then long after the warlord has gone, and perhaps a proper decent government is in power, the banks blackmail the countries into paying back loans they never wanted or benefitted from. Because if they don’t, the West will do you even more damage.

        Like most poor people, the countries generally can only afford to pay the minimum interest, so the capital remains owed forever. Even after the amount of interest that’s been paid is many times more than the initial loan.

        It’s basically “payday loans” on a national basis.

        If rich bullies and thieves would leave Africa alone, they’d be free of most of their troubles and have stable economies within a few years.

    1. LOL… I was thinking arming the cows… maybe laser or sonic weapons…
      of course, i know it is very impractical… but it was the first thought in my mind…
      The weapon can fire when the cows are angry and facing a potential predator… Of course, people can disable it… Or else they will be very difficult to eat…

    2. Andrew, I want to buy your rock.

      Specious reasoning aside, considering he likely had no formal education, this is pretty damn impressive.

      @bthy, the ‘transformer’ is a turn signal box from a bike, most likely a relaxation oscillator. So, you put DC in and get AC out (+DC offset) – very easy to get confused without a textbook/

      1. Probably not a relaxation oscillator, or at least not in the literal electronic sense.

        Usually, the old light-flashers in vehicles use a thermostat system. Current flows through a bimetal strip into a heater. The heater heats the strip, which cuts off the power to the heater. Then it cools down again, and switches the heater on. The characteristics of the whole thing determine the oscillating period, generally about a second.

        That’s why old cars made the funny clunking noise when you put the indicators on. The unit itself looks like an automotive relay, but with only 3 pins instead of 4. 12V in, gnd, and 12V out.

        They have the advantage over electronics of being extremely reliable and easy to fix, as well as cheap to make with simple tools.

  1. It’s like throwback Thursday on a Monday. I recall the comments being much more useful several years ago when this was last posted…

    Also, Lions are quick learners. Blinken lights only work for so long.

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