Features

Young innovator bags award for saving lions

Tuesday, July 11th, 2023 03:00 | By
22-year-old Richard Turere from Kitengela, Kajiado County has won the young innovator award at the Young European Inventor award 2023. Turere and his family celebrate at their Embakasi home. PHOTO/Christine Musa
22-year-old Richard Turere from Kitengela, Kajiado County has won the young innovator award at the Young European Inventor award 2023. Turere and his family celebrate at their Embakasi home. PHOTO/Christine Musa

Twenty-two-year-old Richard Turere from Kitengela, Kajiado county has won the young innovator award at the Young European Inventor Awards 2023.

Turere was named the winner of the coveted under 30 years’ award after beating other contestants over his 2012 innovation of floodlights dubbed “Lion Lights” that aimed at mitigating human-wildlife conflict.

The innovation which has since been utilised in several countries including Tanzania and Argentina and is aimed at taming lions.

Born and bred at Embakasi, Kitengela which borders Nairobi National Park to the South, Turere witnessed massive human wildlife conflict especially involving lions preying on livestock.

Embraced innovation

During the award ceremony in Valencia, Spain, an emotional Turere narrated the pain of witnessing his community killing lions prompting him to come up with the innovation.

Out of old batteries and fires, the young man invented the floodlights which used solar and wind energy to scare away the lions which would stray from the park to prey on livestock in the neighbourhood. What started as a hobby for the then 12-year-old boy has since transformed the life of pastoralists in his village after his neighbours embraced the innovation.

``The rampant lion attacks on livestock was heart wrenching to me. Losing our only source of livelihood was painful but witnessing an agitated community retaliating by killing the lions was more painful. My pain was growing every day because I foresaw a bleak future. I thought in the long run my community would lose their source of livelihood first or all the lions within Nairobi National Park would be killed. It is out of the frustrations that I came up with the idea of the floodlights,” narrated Turere.

International community

When People Daily caught up with the young man at his home yesterday during a thanksgiving ceremony, Turere said the technology has largely been embraced by the international community compared to locals.

``I would appeal to the government to support young innovators in our country. As young people, we need mentorship and moral support to help us enhance our capabilities,’’ he added.

The prize comes with Sh3 million, an amount Turere intends to invest in the advancement of his innovation and human wildlife sensitisation program.

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