Painted eyes on the hindquarters are surprisingly effective in protecting cows from predators

The Cow's Eye Project, which was launched among Botswana herders, has successfully passed the first stage and confirmed the effectiveness of its main idea. It was proposed several years ago by the Australian biologist Neil Jordan, who observed the scene of a lioness hunting an antelope. At some point, the antelope turned around so that it began to look directly at the bushes where the lioness was hiding. And although she did not see the predator, he saw the eyes of his prey (this is a signal that they themselves see you) and chose to stop hunting.

Jordan knew that lions, due to their mass, cannot drive prey, their strength is only enough for a quick dash. They prefer to ambush, but what's the use of sneaking up if the victim has seen you and is already on guard? At the same time, the lion does not distinguish the real eye from the drawn one, and insects, fish and birds successfully use a similar principle of protection. The only thing left is to draw the eyes of the cow on the rear.

The scientist enlisted the support of the Botswana Predator Conservation Fund, where a problem has long been ripe. Lions from hunger kill cows, cattlemen in revenge kill lions, whose population is already critically low. Jordan, along with farmers, painted a third of all the cows in the Okavango Delta pasture with eyes on their backs, another third of the cows received simple crosses, and the rest were left blank to check.

Over the four years of observation, the lions killed 15 unpainted cows, four cows with crosses and none with painted eyes. The idea has paid off 100 percent, but Jordan has doubts. Lions have never experienced such an effect, but if farmers paint cows on a massive scale, then predators can get used to the new phenomenon. Probably, it is worth protecting only the most valuable specimens, and purposefully sacrificing third-rate, sick and frail animals, leaving them unpainted - then the lions will have someone to hunt.