Lions In Hwange Avoid Homes Fitted With LED Lights

Harare  Lions are avoiding homesteads fitted with flashing LED lights in the Hwange district, a conservation group reported this week.

The “predator deterring” lights were fitted to 15 homes in the Matetsi Environmental Conservation Area at the end of 2015 as part of a project aimed at trying to cut down on conflict between humans and lions in the area, the ALERT group said in an update.

“Since the installation of the lights there have been no attacks and all homestead owners have given positive feedback, saying they are now able to sleep at night,” said ALERT.

The Matetsi area shares a boundary with Hwange National Park, which is where Cecil the Lion lived before he was illegally hunted in July 2015. His death sparked a global outcry and put Zimbabwe’s lion population back in the spotlight.

Lion-human conflict

Flashing lights were originally used by Kenyan teenager Richard Turere to protect his family’s cattle. They are not widely used in Zimbabwe. 

But lion-human conflict is a perennial problem in areas where livestock is kept by villagers in areas bordering national parks and wildlife conservancies.

The attacks frequently happen at night, when cattle, donkeys and goats are left unattended in their kraals. 

ALERT said villagers were still reporting some daytime attacks by lions on cattle in grazing areas. These areas will often not be next to the homesteads fitted with the lights.

Researchers have told News24 in separate interviews that “predator deterring” lights were first installed on homes in the Hwange district in 2013.