SCIENTISTS have discovered a surprising new way to keep cows safe from big cat carnivores – by drawing eyes on their backsides!
In Botswana, furious farmers had been killing lions and other endangered predators, as revenge for them scoffing their cattle herds. To find a solution, researchers from the University of New South Wales noticed that certain species of butterflies and birds had ‘eyespots’. These are rear markings that look like eyes and make would-be attackers think twice before sneaking up and pouncing. Cows don’t have them, so it was decided to try painting some on!
Some animals were given a pair of eyes on their bum, while others just had simple crosses, and a final group was left without any extra markings. The results of the four-year study showed that while the crosses had some effect, it was the bum eyes that worked best. In fact, none of the cows that had them were eaten. The unmarked cows weren’t nearly as lucky – 15 of them ended up as a lion’s dinner.
So farmers now have a simple and cheap way to protect their herds, and the lions will be safer from revenge attacks too. And all thanks to a big pair of googly eyes!