Development of Technologies

Conflict with people over the depredation of livestock is a major cause of lion death across their remaining range. The response of livestock owners to losing livestock to lion varies with circumstances and attitudes but all livestock owners have a limit to the losses they can sustain. The most devastating response is the indiscriminate use of poison by desperate livestock owners, and the resulting loss of many carnivores and scavengers. Historically, the best option for repeat livestock killers was to be removed before livestock owners resort to less discriminate and more devastating methods of control. In a vulnerable species, however, the loss of just a few problem animals is too much.

 

Big problems need innovative solutions and so we are turning to modern technology to help with this age-old problem.

We are currently partnering with two groups to test and develop systems that target different and complimentary aspects of human-carnivore conflict. 

Summary of System Advantages:

  • Flexible exclusion enabling the construction of a virtual dynamic matrix of “go” and “no go” areas easily linked to time of year allowing to open and close areas depending on e.g. crop status.

  • Ability to link exclusion zones to specific species or even individuals making some areas accessible to e.g. elephants but closed for predators, or open to females but not males etc.

  • Option to “fence” moving objects such as livestock by miniaturizing the base station and mounting this on a cattle collar

  • Habituation of species to deterrents is minimized as alarm responses only occur in response to the approach by a tagged problem animal.

  • Potential for “teaching” next generation of wildlife a non-problematic behavior by preventing livestock killing in even the worst offenders.

  • Cost effectiveness once put into bulk production.

  • Possibility of linking to a private insurance system covering losses occurring despite the system being in place.

Lion-Human Conflict Reduction Innovation

Savannah Tracking

Often only individual lions (or groups) develop the habit of killing livestock, yet this minority can damage livelihoods, cause intolerance towards all lions, and indeed fuel a negative sentiment towards wildlife in general. In partnership with Loisaba Conservancy, we will carry out field testing and evaluating the technical functionality and feasibility of a novel system by Savannah Tracking, which aims to retrain specific problem lions who have developed the habit of killing livestock, giving another option to lethal control. This system does this by detecting approaching tagged animals and responding with automated alarms to deter the animal before they come close enough to livestock to cause any damage.

 

Lions attack livestock because it is often more abundant and easier to kill than wild prey. Previous research by Lion Landscapes has shown, however, that lions stop approaching livestock enclosures where they have a poor success rate. By successfully thwarting the lion’s efforts to kill livestock at bomas over a period of time, our hope is they will eventually give up and go back to focusing on wild prey.

 

Although we are testing the system on problem lions, this system can be used to protect livestock from all large carnivores, and crops from major crop-raiding species, e.g. elephant.



 

Predator Protection Device
Chris Vargas and the University of Notre Dame

The ‘Predator Protection Device’ has been developed by Chris Vargas and the University of Notre Dame, Dept of Computer Science and Funded by Chris Vargas, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and National Geographic.

 

All lions will be tempted to attack livestock at some point in their lives; there is often more livestock than wild prey, and livestock is much easier to catch and kill. In order to stop lions turning to livestock for their main source of food, it is essential to that livestock are always guarded well.  Research already carried out by us on lion in Laikipia has shown that lions rarely come near bomas at times when people are active but instead wait until people are asleep. Even the best intentioned night guards often fall asleep in the early hours of the morning, resulting in watchful lions taking advantage.

 

The goal of the Predator Protection Device (PPD) is to imitate human activities at bomas. This device builds on previous products, which have included long strings of flashing lights (see the video underneath in which Richard Turere talks about his ingenious Lion lights). Earlier devices have been successful but there are problems with habituation and maintenance. The PPD keep predators from attacking livestock, thereby protecting them from retaliatory killing, by taking this concept further. This device periodically emits both light and sound patterns, imitating both torch light and human voices, or other disturbing sounds. 

Summary of System Advantages:

  • Minimizes the risk of habituation by randomizing when the lights and sounds turn on and by varying the light/sound patterns

  • Solar powered

  • Highly portable so easy to deploy and move

  • Simple design means that is easy to use even for people with little technological experience

  • Able to withstand harsh conditions such as rain, wind, dust, and sand

  • Does not involve any collaring of lions

  • Very cost effective

Richard Turere's TED Talk on his ingenious Lion Lights

Lion landscapes role is to design and run field tests for these new innovations, helping to guide their final development and refinement with robust lion behaviour and conflict data. Once perfected, we will then be raising funds to deploy them in Lion Landscapes where human-carnivore conflict is a major threat to lions.