Lion Lights

A story of ingenuity and perseverance.

Lion Lights

Richard Turere’s own story: Richard grew up in Kenya as a Maasai boy, herding his family’s cattle, which represented their wealth and livelihood. Richard’s challenge was to protect their cattle from the lions who prowled the night just outside the barrier of acacia branches that surrounded the farm’s boma, or stockade. Though not well-educated, 12-year-old Richard loved tinkering with electronics. Using salvaged components, spending $10, he surrounded the boma with blinking lights, and the system works; it keeps lions away. His invention, Lion Lights, is now used in Africa, Asia, and South America to protect farm animals from predators. 



"In a true tale bound to inspire all young would-be inventors, Turere describes how, at the age of 12, he came up with a cheap and ingenious solution to a problem that stumped his own pastoral Maasai people and outside experts. Seeing that fires, fences, and fixed lights all failed to keep lions from the nearby Nairobi National Park from killing his father’s valuable cattle at night but noticing that the predators avoided his flashlight, the young tinkerer experiments with old electrical parts until he develops a stringable set of blinking lights that prove effective enough to earn him international recognition. Along with handsome group portraits of lions and livestock, Possentini depicts the author in both traditional Maasai and modern dress―guarding the herd as a 9-year-old, taking his mother’s new radio apart, and delivering a TED talk and reflecting that he had done “a Maasai warrior’s duty.” Coauthor Pollock adds an overview of the Maasai to go with the closing glossary and a useful list of recent picture books about other young African achievers."

"There were a lot of efforts to protect lions and livestock. It was a conservation crisis, really. Expert solutions failed, but Richard came up with something that worked."
Paula Kahumbu, executive director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust; chairman of the Friends of Nairobi National Park; CEO of Wildlife Direct; National Geographic Explorer

"Lion Lights seem simple, but then again the best solutions always do. Since Richard invented his system, lions have never killed our livestock, and the tension between the Kenya Wildlife Service and local communities has been reduced."
Dr. Charles Musyoki, Senior Scientist, Kenya Wildlife Service

"Richard’s system has been a huge success. People all over Kenya have begun copying his approach to safeguard their livestock―the concept is simple, cheap, and easily replicated. Many of those using it now have no knowledge of who the innovator is. Thank you, Richard!"
Lucy Waruingi, African Conservation Centre; from The Lion Chaser: The Invention That Changed Farming in Kenya