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Maasai inventor named as a finalist for the Young Inventors Prize


Kenya’s Richard Turere has been named among one of three finalists for the second edition of the Young Inventors Prize.

The Maasai inventor was recognized for developing a system to ward off lions and other predators from livestock using light sequences. 

The Young Inventors Prize was established by the European Patent Office (EPO) established to inspire the next generation of inventors.  The prize recognises young innovators aged 30 or under who have developed technological solutions to tackle global problems and help reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The winner takes home EUR 20,000 while the second and third-placed finalists receive EUR 10,000 and EUR 5,000 respectively.  

EPO says Turere’s invention contributes to UN SDG 15: Life on Land, which includes protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

The lion population in Africa is estimated to have declined by 43% in the past 20 years, with roughly 20 000 lions thought to be roaming the entire continent, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Many lions are killed to stop them from eating precious livestock, which is a key concern for the Maasai of Kenya. Seeking to protect his community’s livestock without harming the endangered lions, inventor Richard Turere developed the new system known as Lion Lights which is now being used in more than 2000 homes. 

Lion Lights is based on a simple concept, replicating the human presence that keeps lions away. Using changing sequences of flashing lights, the lions cannot become comfortable with the patterns.

 “Our motto at Lion Lights is that there is no existence without co-existence. For us to be able to live in this world harmoniously, we’ll have to find a way of living peacefully with each other, humans and wildlife”. Turere says.

The system typically runs on solar energy but can also be coupled with wind power when the weather is cloudy or there is little sun. It has attracted international attention and has been implemented in several other countries, including Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Argentina, and India, where it has helped deter various species of animals, such as hyenas, leopards and cheetahs. 

The Young Inventors Prize winner will be announced at the European Inventor Award 2023 hybrid ceremony on 4 July 2023 in Valencia (Spain).

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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