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Scientists Draw Eyes on the Butts of Cows to Protect Them from Lions

It might sound like a silly idea, but it turns out that drawing eyes on the rumps of cattle might deter lions from attacking and prevent human retaliation against the mighty predators.

It sounds like a strategy to protect the poor cattle, but the idea is actually to protect endangered African lions from human retaliation. The majestic felines are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with numbers currently in the range of 23,000 to 39,000 and rapidly declining. “As protected conservation areas become smaller, lions are increasingly coming into contact with human populations, which are expanding to the boundaries of these protected areas,” says Dr Neil Jordan, a conservation biologist from UNSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science. The lions attack livestock, and with no non-lethal way of protecting their livelihood farmers often shoot or poison the predators in retaliation.

To help humans and their cattle coexist with lions, Jordan has come up with a low-cost strategy that he hopes will prevent attacks and retaliatory violence. The idea behind painting a pair of intimidating eyes on the rumps of cows is that they will trick the lions into thinking they’ve been spotted, causing them to abandon the hunt. Scientists know that being seen can deter some species from attacking their prey. For example, Indian woodcutters have long been wearing worn masks on the back of their heads to trick man-eating tigers that they’ve been spotted, and butterflies with eye-patterns on their wings ward off predatory birds.

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The Androgynous Lionesses of Botswana

Moremi Game Reserve, located in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, is home to a pride of butch lionesses with deep roars and bushy, luxurious manes. They look so much like male lions, they easily fool competing prides into believing that they’re actually males.

The maned lionesses are regularly spotted by visitors to the Mombo Safari Camp, an area within the Reserve where these wild beasts reside. Wildlife experts believe that the lion population in the area might have a genetic condition that causes the phenomenon. The seasonal flood waters of the delta could have isolated these lions for decades, forcing them to inbreed their way to a genetic mutation causing a hormonal imbalance.

When National Geographic contacted Luke Hunter, president of the big-cat conservation group Panthera, for answers, he explained that masculine females are likely to occur when the embryo is disrupted – either during conception or while in the womb. “If the former case, the genetic contribution of the sperm – which determines the sex of the fetus in most mammals – was probably aberrant, giving rise to a female with some male characteristics,” he said.

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Private Zoo Owner Plans to Spend a Year Living with Lions

Alexander Pylyshenko, the owner of a private zoo in the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine, has announced he plans to spend a year caged with two full-grown lions, in order to raise funds for a  proper care center for big cats.

If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because this wouldn’t be Alexander Pylyshenko first such attempt. Back in 2011 he set a new Ukrainian record, after he spent 35 days caged with two lions, during which time he even helped the female deliver her cubs. From the moment he set foot into the cage, the feline lover started living as if he was a lion himself. That meant sharing the raw meat the lions were fed with and sleeping on hay beds. He even built a toilet and shower inside the enclosure so he wouldn’t be forced to leave the cage at any moment. This time however, he plans on living with male Samson and lioness Katya for a full year, so he needs to plan accordingly. Alexander, who has studied lions his whole life, decided to spend time with his two fanged pets both inside their metal cage and in his nearby country house, where he’ll be able to cook. The Ukrainian beast-master says that although his lions consume between 5 and 10 pounds of meat per day, depending on the season, Katya has developed a taste for his cooking and enjoys mushroom soup and tomatoes with mayonnaise.

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Zoo Owner to Spend Five Weeks Caged with Lions

Alexander Pylyshenko, 40, owner of his own private zoo, in the Ukrainian city of Vasylivka, will be spending 35 days caged with two lions, in a stunt he hopes will raise awareness to the poor treatment of lions held in captivity.

The brave zoo owner says he will live like a lion from the moment he enters the cage. That means he will sleep on hay on the floor and eat from the meat that will be given to the lions through the cage bars. As for personal hygiene, Pylyshenko has built a toilet and shower inside the enclosure, but he’ll have to restrain from using shampoo, shower gel or deodorant, as big cats hate sharp odours. While lioness Katya and her mate Samson seem to get along just fine with their caretaker, things might not be as peaceful when they share a living space 24/7, especially since the female is expected to give birth during the five week period, and lionesses are known to be quite over-protective of their cubs.

But Alexander Pylyshenko, who has studied lions his entire life, is confident he will survive this dangerous test, and draw attention to the problems of big cats in captivity. He also plans to paint portraits of the lions while living with them, and sell them to raise money for charity. His 35-day experience living with two lions will be recorded via four webcams, which will broadcast it on the Internet, here.

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Egyptian Man to Fight Full-Grown Lion with His Bare Hands

Sayed al Essawy, an Egyptian who claims to be the world’s strongest man, announced he will be fighting a 10-year-old, 230 kg lion, in front of the pyramids, to boost his country’s tourism business.

I know it sounds silly, but Sayed is very serious about his plan, despite international outrage from animal activists. He claims he discovered his incredible strength when he was only 13, and almost immediately afterwards promised himself he would one day fight a lion. With the current state of the economy in Egypt, because of the recent revolution, Sayed al Essawy thought this was the perfect time to fulfill his childhood dream and at the same time boost his country’s tourism business by promoting the fight.

In an interview with Al Masry Al Youm, Essawy confessed there is also a very serious political message that he wants to send. After he has vanquished the lion, he wants to place an Israeli flag on its body and put his foot on it. He says it was Israel who pushed him to do this, with all the atrocities they committed while he was growing up, and now he wants to prove that even though Israel and America are as strong as lions, they can still be defeated by the Arab youth, which is about to explode…

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The Rare White Lions of South Africa

A pride of rare white lions was released into the South African wilds, in an attempt to re-establish the species in their natural habitat.

This was the second pride released in the last three years. The white lions were fitted with radio tracking devices, used to monitor their hunting behavior and growth. They may look like albinos, but their unusual color is the result of a unique gene. They are seen as the most sacred animals by many tribes, but, because of poaching, only three white lion prides roam free today.

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Photos by BARCROFT Media

via Telegraph.co.uk