Conservation's New Lights

When wild animals attack livestock, it can often be deadly—both for the livestock and for the wildlife involved. Livestock owners often retaliate against livestock predation by killing the carnivores that threaten their herds.

Conservationists like Dr. Rodney Jackson of Snow Leopard Conservancy work closely with livestock owners to better protect their animals. When Rodney first heard about Foxlights, an electronic deterrent developed by Ian Whalen to ward off predators on his Australian farm, he immediately got in touch. Foxlights are intermittently flashing colorful lights that warn snow leopards and other predators that there are humans in the area. This causes the predator to avoid what could be a risky area.

Compared to other available predator deterrents, Foxlights are relatively inexpensive, portable, and have a long battery life. These traits are all important to field conservationists. WCN’s Director of Technology Dave Cortright has reached out to other WCN Partners to trial Foxlights and has been researching rechargeable battery and solar charger solutions that would allow them to work in Africa and Asia. Cheetah Conservation Botswana and Niassa Lion Project are both beginning trials of Foxlights in the areas where they work.

Initial results from trials in Nepal have been encouraging. Kunga Gurung, a Nepalese herder who owns forty yaks, was one of the first to test the lights. “What a surprise through the night that the snow leopards did not dare to come near,” he said after testing the lights. “The Foxlights did scare them! There is no way that snow leopards dare come near our pastures at night.”