Richard Turere | Solar Lion Tamer

Not only does Richard's invention protect his father's cattle from lions, it is now used across Kenya to protect livestock from lions, hyenas, and other predators, and scare elephants away from cropland. (Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

Richard Turere. (Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

What does a nine year old boy who scares lions have to do with Slab City?

He lives “off the grid” and uses solar!  (Like us!) He lives in a hot desert environment. (Like us!) But he has an animal (or two) that we do not have to worry about.


Richard Turere was responsible at the age of 6 for his father’s cows. “And these lions were very annoying, because they were killing my father’s cows.”

Richard Turere decided to find a solution.

He tried fires.  Nope, that did not work.  How about a scarecrow? Oh sure, that worked…for one night… “but lions are very clever” he said.

He noticed the lions did not come close when he walked with a flashlight at night. Perhaps it was the moving lights that scared them off.  Who wants to stay up all night walking around with a flashlight? (Ok, so maybe a few Slabbers do, but…back to Richard, the nine-year old boy living in Kenya, the Maasai lion whisperer).

He used a few simple wires and bulbs, added a series of flashing lights, hooked it all up to a solar panel and a battery and “Zzzz”, went to bed. It worked! See below for his diagram.

Richard's diagram shows everything from the solar panels harvesting energy, to the cow being protected by the lights. (Drawing by Richard Turere, Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

(Drawing by Richard Turere, Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

Lion attacks can be devastating for a family. They can also be devastating for lions, as was seen in 2012 when six lions were killed in apparent retaliatory attacks (read the story, see videos).

Lion Lights are now the biggest rage in households across Kenya. The lights also work keeping elephants out of the garden (crops).

Richard's goal is to become an engineer and pilot. His trip to TED offered him his first flight in a plane (Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

(Photo by Paula Kahumbu)

Richard’s goal is to become an engineer and pilot. His trip to speak at TED offered him his first flight in a plane.  Now he wants to be an engineer and a pilot.

So what happens if the lions get wise to the solar light trick? Richard will find another way, because, as he says, “that’s what I do”.

That is exactly what the people who live in Slab City do…they figure out what works.


Andrew Howley of National Geographic

Andrew Howley of National Geographic

Lions No Match for Young Boy and His Invention: Richard Turere at TED

Posted by Andrew Howley of NG Staff on February 27, 2013

Thank you National Geographic Society for
“Inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888.”


Want to learn more about solar? Read about Solar Mike, our own Solar expert, right here in Slab City.