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June 12, 2016 2 min read

Can Intimidating Eye Patterns Painted Onto Cows Reduce Lion Attacks?

Neil Jordan's research is being conducted in collaboration with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. Jordan is curious as to whether painting eyes on cows behinds could help deter the cattle being preyed upon by lions. This innovative idea is based on animal behavior such as eye-patterns on insects deter birds, the white spots on the back of tiger ears, and even humans wearing a mask on the back of their heads helping to prevent big cat attacks.

i-Cows Eye patterns painted onto cows
Image courtesy of Neil Jordan

The i-cows experiment

The I-cows experiment  (June 2016-17) tests whether large eye-patterns painted onto cattle prevents predation by lions. Half of a herd in Botswana, 30 cows, will be painted with an eye-pattern on their behinds, while the other half will not be painted.  Survival of painted vs. unpainted cows will be recorded during visits to the kraal (overnight predator-proof enclosure). Cows will also be fitted with GPS-loggers to record movement and equivalent data for a resident lion from the pride in a herd's grazing area will be recorded using a satellite GPS radio-collar. Results will be shared with farmers and more widely through the scientific publications and popular press. This solution is a low cost and requires no specialist tools.  This experiment is unusual but urgently needed for carnivore-conflict management.

The Tiniest Tiger Community is a Backer for This Research

Triple T Studios

The ultimate goal is to provide farmers with a cost-effective tool that reduces the desire to retaliate and kill lions.  Thanks to your support of Triple T Studios, The Tiniest Tiger community is a backer of the i-cows experiment.  Thank you for caring about all cats big and small.