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Why Are Scientists Planning To Paint Large Eyes On The Backs Of Cows?

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Southern Africa’s country Okavango Delta is an inland, marshy river delta, inhabited by flourishing wildlife. However, the country was on the verge of a wildlife endangerment following the incompatible co-existence of wild predators and cattle herds.

Initially, farm animals were predated by wild animals every other day. To protect them, farmers retaliated by killing those wild animals.

However, this conflict between humans and wildlife is unethical and goes against ecological principles. Therefore, to settle this conflict, an Australian conservation biologist Neil Jordan, came up with a smart solution to prevent the predators from attacking the farm cattle. 

Neil Jordan and his team initiated ‘Eye-Cow Project’ stretched over ten weeks. As a part of the project, they painted eye-like structures on the back of 1/3rd of the 62 cattle. These eyes were painted in high-contrast colours, for fooling wild predators to believe that their prey is alert and must not be attacked. Later, every night they counted the number of cattle that survived.   

As a result, only three cows were killed in these ten weeks. Surprisingly, none of them had the eyes painted on their backside. Thus, all of the painted ones survived.

Jordan came up with this idea knowing the fact that wild animals like lions hunt only in ambush, not when their prey is alert. He extracted the idea from the eye-like creations on butterfly’s wings that protect them from preying birds. Also, Jordan was inspired by Indian woodcutters, who wear masks behind their heads to ward-off the tigers attacking from behind.

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