Wednesday 14 November 2012

Richard Turere

This Richard is a kick-ass kid in Kenya, who, at the age of eleven, invented a device that keeps lions from attacking livestock and homes.

Richard lives outside of Nairobi, on the border of Nairobi National Park, which is the home of a great many lions. Lions are an important resource in Kenya because they bring in lots of tourist dollars, but they can also be a threat. The big cats have been known to attack and kill livestock, thereby causing financial hardship for families that live along the edge of the national park.

Richard’s family was no exception. Even though Richard would lock the livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) up at night, lions would still attack. Unlike most eleven-year-olds, Richard decided to fix the problem.

Using his keen observation skills, Richard realized that lions did not like flashlights because they associated the bobbing balls of light with humans – of whom lions are (rightfully) quite wary. Of course, it’s impractical for a small family to have a member stay up all night waving a flashlight around. So Richard rigged up a series of five lights, which flash in a sequence and give the impression that a human is outside swinging a flashlight. Even better: Richard has the system connected to a car battery that is powered by a solar panel! Altogether it took Richard about two months to develop his invention and it cost not quite ten dollars to make. This makes it a practical, affordable system that can be used by many Kenyans.

For the past two years (Richard is now thirteen), his family has been using his invention and have not suffered a single attack. Eventually, their neighbors noticed their good luck and Richard made anti-lion lights for them, too. At some point, National Geographic found out about these “lion lights” and Richard and his invention became a sensation. The National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, WildlifeDirect, and Friends of Nairobi Park are now working together to increase use of lion lights. Richard, meanwhile, was awarded a full scholarship to the Brookhouse School, one of Kenya’s best, in Nairobi. Richard plans to study engineering and wants to work on airplanes.

Richard, you are making all other holders of the name “Richard” proud. Congratulations to a little Richard who has already succeeded in a big way!

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*I first read about Richard on 


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