By: Isabella Carson
Young Richard Turere lives at the edge of the Nairobi National Park in Kenya. He lives with his family and their livestock. The lions would come through the reserve at night and kill off the livestock. Turere hated the lions because they were always killing off his family’s cows. There were people around the reserve that would stand guard and kill the lions so that the livestock survived but this was not a solution that everyone was happy with as the Maasai people value all life. Turere knew that he had to come up with a solution and had to do it quickly so that no more animals died. He was 9 years old when he began helping his father tend to the cattle. He was just 12 years old when he became an inventor.
In 2013 Turere was a guest speaker at the TED conference. He spoke about how he hated the lions and wanted to find a way to help the cattle that were being killed. He tried fire first as he thought that it would scare the lions off but it ended up helping them to see the cattle better at night. He also tried scarecrows but the lions were smart and figured out that they were no threat. One day when he realized that lions were afraid of moving lights he began developing a tool that would involve lights to keep the lions at bay. It was then that Lion Lights were born.
After getting the inspiration for his invention Turere needed to get one going into production. He took apart his mother’s new radio and took some of the electrical components out of it. He also used a solar panel and the battery from the radio for power. He hooked up lightbulbs from old flashlights to wiring from the solar panel and battery through what he called transformers. Once the lights were turned on they would flash all night with the energy stored in the battery. It worked. No lions came to kill the cattle. An elderly neighbor asked if he would set them up at her house which he gladly did. Soon after six more families had the lights installed on their land.
Word spread about the lights and got back to the Brookstone International School in Kenya. They offered Turere a full scholarship to the school at just 13 years old. The school helped him with funding and space to create more of the lion lights and distribute them. He brought other students in the school back to his community and showed them how to set the lights up. The community has not had a problem with dead livestock since the lights were put up. Turere said that he now dreams of becoming an aircraft engineer and pilot.