Design TED Conferences

A 12 year old learns to scare lions: Richard Turere at TED2013

Posted by: Ben Lillie

TED2013_0034998_D31_0331

Richard Turere is 12 years old, and he lives in Kenya, in Nairobi National Park. It’s a park with lots of animals that roam freely, including lions. The lions kill livestock. So he say, “I grew up hating lions.”

Turere, who took part in the Global Talent Search last year, tried to solve the problem. First, he used fire. But that didn’t work, and actually, “It was helping the lions see through the cowshed.”

So he went to a second idea: a scarecrow. “I was trying to trick the lions. But lions are clever.” On the first day, the lions came, saw the scarecrow and left. The second day, they came and realized it wasn’t moving, and killed the cows.

But one day Turere discovered that lions are afraid of moving lights. So he got a bunch of lights and an old car battery, and the thing from a motor car that makes the blinkers blink. He set up a circuit that made lights flash. It worked: “The lights flash and trick the lions that I’m walking around the cowshed when I’m sleeping in my bed.”

Since then, no problems with lions. Other people nearby heard about it and had similar problems, so they asked him to install lights for them. Now it’s used all across Kenya to scare various predators. Because of this, he received a scholarship to the best college in Kenya, where he now studies.

“A year ago,” says Turere, “I was a boy in a savannah grassland. I saw planes fly over and I said I’d be inside one day. I had a chance to come by plane for the first time for TED. I got to come by plane to come to TED. My dream is to become an aircraft engineer and pilot when I grow up.”

And for now, he lives with the lions without conflict. It’s a wonderful sentiment to end an extraordinary talk, and the audience responds with a full, enthusiastic standing ovation.

Richard Turere’s talk is now available for viewing. Watch it on TED.com»