Painting eyes on cow butts prevents Lion attacks (Really?)

Fred Gunner

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Who thinks up this stuff???? Could it be this simple? Deter lions by painting eyes on the backside of a cow? New study from Botswana says yes. This simple but brilliant technique tricks lions into thinking they are being watched.

Africa: Lions Are Less Likely to Attack Cattle With Eyes Painted On Their Backsides

The predation of livestock by carnivores, and the retaliatory killing of carnivores as a result, is a major global conservation challenge. Such human-wildlife conflicts are a key driver of large carnivore declines and the costs of coexistence are often disproportionately borne by rural communities in the global south.

While current approaches tend to focus on separating livestock from wild carnivores, for instance through fencing or lethal control, this is not always possible or desirable. Alternative and effective non-lethal tools that protect both large carnivores and livelihoods are urgently needed.

In a new study we describe how painting eyes on the backsides of livestock can protect them from attack.

Many big cats - including lions, leopards, and tigers - are ambush predators. This means that they rely on stalking their prey and retaining the element of surprise. In some cases, being seen by their prey can lead them to abandon the hunt. We tested whether we could hack into this response to reduce livestock losses to lions and leopards in Botswana's Okavango delta region.

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This delta, in north-west Botswana, has permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains which host a wide variety of wildlife. It's a Unesco world heritage site and parts of the delta are protected. However, though livestock are excluded, the cordon fence is primarily intended to prevent contact and disease transmission between cattle and Cape buffalo. Large carnivores, and other wildlife including elephants, are able to move freely across it, and livestock losses to large carnivores are common in the area. In response, lethal control through shooting and poisoning can occur.

While the initial focus of the study was ambush predators generally, it soon became clear that lions were responsible for most of it. During the study, for instance, lions killed 18 cattle, a leopard killed one beast, and spotted hyaenas killed three.

Ultimately, our study found that lions were less likely to attack cattle if they had eyes painted on their rumps. This suggests that this simple and cost-effective technique can be added to the coexistence toolbox, where ambush predators are involved.

Eye-catching solution

Conflict between farmers and wildlife can be intense along the borders of protected areas, with many communities bearing significant costs of coexisting with wildlife. The edge of the Okavango delta in Botswana is no exception, where farmers operate small non-commercial livestock enterprises.

Livestock rub shoulders with lions, leopards, spotted hyaenas, cheetahs, and African wild dogs. To protect the cattle, herds (anything between about six and 100 individual cattle) are kept within predator-proof enclosures overnight. However, they generally graze unattended for most of the day, when the vast majority of predation occurs.


Possible limitations
First, it is important to realise that, in our experimental design, there were always unmarked cattle in the herd. Consequently, it is unclear whether painting would still be effective if these proverbial “sacrificial lambs” were not still on the menu. Further research could uncover this, but in the meantime applying artificial marks to the highest-value individuals within the herd may be most pragmatic.

Second, it is important to consider habituation, meaning that predators may get used to and eventually ignore the deterrent. This is a fundamental issue for nearly all non-lethal approaches. Whether the technique remains effective in the longer term is not yet known in this case.

Protecting livestock from wild carnivores – while conserving carnivores themselves – is an important and complex issue that requires the application of a suite of tools, including practical and social interventions. While adding the eye-cow technique to the carnivore-livestock conflict prevention toolbox, we note that no single tool is likely to be a silver bullet. Indeed, we must do better than a silver bullet if we are to ensure the successful coexistence of livestock and large carnivores. Nevertheless, as part of an expanding non-lethal toolkit, we hope that this simple, low-cost approach could reduce the costs of coexistence for some farmers.

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Fred Gunner

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So an African cattle rancher is setting at the bar...tells his bar tender "Lions took three cows this week!"
Guy setting at the end of the bar..."try painting eyes on your cows butts?"
The rest is history!

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Rimbaud

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I know a guy who spent a lot of time in SE Asian jungles. He liked to wear a Richard Nixon mask on the back of his head so the big cats didn’t grab him. He’s still alive today. True story
 

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It's just crazy enough to work lol I know bobcats have white spots on the back of their ears that look like eyes if the cat is facing away from you. Probably works good painting eyes on cows asses
 

Red Leg

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Apparently, it is a technique that has been used in India for a while in the reserves where Tigers are still prevalent. Not sure if there are many accurate statistics or controlled studies with respect to effectiveness. :unsure:
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^This Here^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I was just going to post that about them doing it in India and other locations where tigers roam.
 

Major Khan

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Apparently, it is a technique that has been used in India for a while in the reserves where Tigers are still prevalent. Not sure if there are many accurate statistics or controlled studies with respect to effectiveness. :unsure:
View attachment 361939
Sir , it does not work. The Indian government released this statistic , in order to prevent the locals from killing man eating royal Bengal tigers in self defense . A royal Bengal tiger will always attack it's quarry from the side . This method saw limited success on the village panthers which weigh less than 120 pounds . But the heavier forest panthers ( Or village panthers which weigh above 120 pounds ) are far too emboldened . They will attack their quarry , regardless . And this will definitely NOT work on a royal Bengal tiger of ANY size . Today , the largest number of human death caused by royal Bengal tigers ... Occurs near India's wild life reserves .

Observe the wound patterns on this human corpse . He was a wood cutter who was fatally attacked by the man eating forest panther , pictured below .



GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW



















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GRAPHIC CONTENT ABOVE



The forest panther attacked the poor man from the side and then tore his rib cage open ( While also disembowelling him with the talons on it’s hind legs ) , prior to commencing feeding .
 
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Ridge Runner

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I wonder if spike collars, like those dog owners use to protect their dogs would work.

Attach a collar around the cattle's neck, girth, and hind quarters would work.:unsure::unsure:
 
 

 

 

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