An eye-opening conservation initiative, aimed at helping farmers and their livestock coexist with African lions is being trialled in Botswana by scientists at Sydney's University of New South Wales.The low-cost strategy will see intimidating eyes painted onto the rumps or the backside of cattle that graze near wildlife areas and are preyed upon by lions. The idea is that the eyes will trick the lions into thinking they've been seen, causing them to abandon the hunt. The lions eat livestock, such as cattle, which negatively impacts the livelihood of the subsistence farmers living in those rural areas. With no soft way to prevent the attacks, the farmers often turn to deadly force, shooting or poisoning the lions in retaliation. Dr. Neil Jordan is the lead researcher. He's a Conservation Biologist with the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the UNSW and Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Martin Kwakwa spoke with Dr. Jordan, and he began by asking him about his research.
Dr. Jordan's idea of painting eyes onto cattle rumps came about after two lionesses were killed near the village in Botswana where he was based.
While watching a lion hunt an impala, he noticed something interesting: Lions are ambush hunters, so they creep up on their prey, get close and jump on them unseen. But in this case, the impala noticed the lion, and when the lion realised it had been spotted, it gave up on the hunt, Dr. Jordan says.