Preventing Lions from killing livestock at night!
So far 63 light units have been installed since the start of our study 2014. 18 farmers were assisted with these FREE lights (donated by suporters of our work) and some farmers own more than 1 kraal (Cattle Post) The lights prevented the lions in most areas from breaching the cattle posts but in some areas they entered and killed livestock. We take a closer look as to WHY?
There are many variables that one has to consider when collecting data on this specific light deterrent system such as the size of the kraal, the condition of the kraal, materials used to build the kraal and amount of lights used to deter lions. Other factors that has to be included are the availability of natural prey for lions to prey on, water availability, pride composition and dynamics i.e. cubs present and lastly, seasonal movements of natural prey.
Lights are generally installed at areas of a kraal that are most vulnerable or exposed and even then, observation has indicated that lions have were seen testing where lights are and where they are not to try and enter a kraal. When lions manage to enter a kraal (lights or no lights) they do not always kill just one. Their adrenalin is extremely high and with cattle moving around and trying to escape, it triggers the lions’ brain to catch as many as possible. What we have observed is that from December to June, lions tend to attack calves as they are easier to kill and easier to drag through the fence to feast on away from the crime scene which also seems to take pressure of the fact that once they enter a kraal they kill less cattle. Smaller livestock is completely different and could lead to mass loss in one night.
The aim of our study is to determine whether or not our current light/siren combination can be used as a long-term solution to protect livestock loss from lions at night. We select farmers that endure a constant all year predation on their livestock as data would be more frequently available to collect and to determine how long it takes the lions to become accustomed to the light/siren. If you install lights on kraals that only get attacked possibly once a year, the data will not be accurate over a long-term study thus all farmers have to fall under the same categories.
Collecting of data is not as easy as one might think and this is one of the main reasons why we kept our current study relatively small as the distances between cattle posts are far and we need to constantly monitor each kraal weekly. Farmers rarely call us when lions were near the area and only make contact with us once the lions are inside the kraal (which has only happened three times in two years) so the question we are trying to determine currently is; how many times do the lions actually attempt to enter a specific kraal before they might breach.
Our current update is that since we have joined the lights with sirens, we have had NO incursions of lions as of yet. If they do break the barrier, these questions needs to be answered:
How often do they visiting kraal/s with light/sirens installed before eventually breaking the barrier?
How often do the test the light/sirens?
How fast do they adapt?
Did they enter from an area that is not covered by lights?
What physical condition where they in?
Were cubs present?
Which sex broke into the kraal?
How long were they/it staying inside the kraal?
Did the herd boy/s attempt to chase them?
Did the lions call during the night before attacking? (As most attacks are often when lions are silent)
These are only but a few examples of how we collect data and which factors contributed to their attack.
It is not a secret that the general lion population around Africa has declined dramatically over the last few years and answers with long term solutions are required fast. Time is slowly running out and solutions are required as soon as possible.