This has to be one of the weirdest solutions to a animal killing problem that Ive ever heard. And to think it was scientists that came up with this.
It involves painting eyes on the asses of cows! Thats right, having a smiley face ass is going to cut down dramatically on the number of lions that are shot by farmers in Africa, according to scientists.
And it looks as if early trials are showing very positive results! Lions appear to be less likely to attack livestock when they believe they are being watched. This means a better relationship between farmers and lions. Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia are testing this method. They first had noticed that lions would back off when prey like an impala would look at them. Heres what Neil Jordan, a conservation biologist from UNSW had to say:
“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.”
Its sort of like butterflies who have wing patterns resembling eyes, and they end up warding off predators as a result. This is a first with larger predators though. But something is definitely needing to be done as there are between 23,000 and 39,000 African lions left in the wild. They are reported as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species!
It turns out the farmers who kill lions in retaliation is actually one of the biggest threats to the species.
Heres what Jordan has to say:
“As protected conservation areas become smaller, lions are increasingly coming into contact with human populations, which are expanding to the boundaries of these protected areas.
So you can see how important it is to prevent the lions from killing in the first place, then farmers would ease off on the killing and would hopefully be able to peacefully co-exist with the animal. Could it really work? A small trial in Botswana is leading that answer towards a resounding yes.
They stamped on painted eyes on a third of the herd consisting of 62 cattle. The returning cow count over 10 weeks came out to be three unpainted cows who were killed, while all painted cows survived! While the sample size is too small to totally rule out chance, they will go back again and conduct a more thorough three-month test which will hopefully give more precise answers on whether or not this truly does work.
Jordan and team have bought 10 cattle GPS loggers, and a GPS lion radio collar, through crowdfunding. The GPS devices will reveal the movements of the cattle and the lions. The hope is to be able to track the movement and see when these two animals meet, if the painted eyes will make a difference.
“This will give us information about the exposure of painted and unpainted cows to predation risks, and where the conflict hotspots are.
How weird to think that painted butts may be the ultimate solution to this problem of protecting endangered African lions! Share this bizarre story with friends and family!