Livestock industry is a major source of livelihood in still-developing countries and regions. Intrinsically, there is an urge to protect this source of income and living. Especially in Southern Africa, it is a major issue to keep these animals away from the carnivores where they roam hungrily.
A new study on the protection of the cattle has shown a quite interesting result: carnivores do not attack the livestock marked with "eyes".
The study took place in Botswana's Okavango Delta region, a part of Southern Africa, and was published on August 7, 2020, in the journal Nature.
Before that, other solutions were tried such as keeping the herds in confined spaces at night or keeping a fence between the herd and the outside. Still, these were not enough as the herbivores still grazed freely in the morning, and the fences were no obstacle for the wild ones, according to The Conversation.
A four-year study
Overall 14 herds, 2,061 cattle were subject to the study. In a four-year research, 683 of the herbivores were painted on their rumps with an eye design, which corresponds to one-third of each herd in total.
Of course, not all of them were painted with an eye to see if it was the case.
One-third of each herd was just cross-marked while the rest was left as they were.
It was definitely a very long process. 49 painting sessions were conducted with each lasting 24 days.
All the herds were foddered in the same place to experience the same amount of exposure to carnivores.
Better to be marked than having unpainted fur
The results were astonishing. It is not just the fact that none of the cows with eye designs were attacked but what the predators had in their minds to perceive the eye as something dissuasive.
Now it's proven that to be seen by the prey makes the hunter leave it.
When it comes to the rest of them, 15 of the 835 unpainted and 4 of 543 cross-marked were attacked and killed. Turns out, it is better to be simply marked than having no patterns at all.
The results will, for sure, appear as a relief for some time. However, it is not for certain that the predators, mainly big cats, eventually may get used to it and they would start attacking the ones with eye designs again.