Richard-picture-for-blogRichard Turere, 13, was the youngest speaker at the ongoing TED conference in California, highlighting how he uses flashlights to keep his cattle safe from lions in his rural village in Kenya.

He spoke about his innovation and how he came up with it at the TED 2013 conference on Tuesday, February 26.

The TED platform showcases innovations that solve local problems, and usually hosts people who have experience in changing their world in one way or another. Turere’s story shows how rural people have been able to coexist with wild animals, especially lions, with the help of technology.

Turere, who has no electrical or engineering experience or education, invented his flashlight system to keep lions away from the cattle at night. “They used to come at night and feed on our cattle when we were sleeping,” he told CNN in an earlier interview.

He realised lions were afraid of coming close to flashlights during the night. Rather than walking around with a flashlight he developed a system that would enable easy control of the lights.

He placed LED bulbs onto poles where the livestock were, and derived energy from solar panels to power the bulbs. The lights were designed to flicker on and off, giving a sense that someone was walking with a flashlight. This has become effective in keeping away the lions from the livestock.

“I did it myself, no one taught me, I just came up with it. I had to look after my dad’s cows and make sure that they were safe,” Turere said.

This has earned him a scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious schools in Kenya. “A year ago,” Turere said, “I was a boy in a savannah grassland. I saw planes fly over and I said I’d be inside one day. I had a chance to come by plane for the first time for TED. I got to come by plane to come to TED. My dream is to become an aircraft engineer and pilot when I grow up.”

Credit: HumanIPO