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Hundreds of Cases of Conflict Between Farmers and Predators Defused in Namibia

Field Report by Florian J Weise, N/a’an ku sê Principal Investigator, a Grantee of the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative

Around the world, the protection of free-roaming predator populations remains one of the most difficult conservation challenges. Although research and conservation of large carnivores have received a lot of attention, these iconic species still frequently come into conflict with local landowners.

Since 2008, N/a’an ku sê Foundation in Namibia works closely with livestock ranchers, game farmers and hunters to promote co-existence with predators on commercial farms.

The team has been involved in over 270 conflict consultations, equivalent of an impact area larger than 25,000 square kilometers (about 10,000 square miles). These on-site consultations result in anything from collaring big cats for monitoring purposes to improving livestock husbandry practices.

Photograph by Jack Somerville, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê
Photograph by Jack Somerville, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê

 

Photograph by Claudia Mulzer, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê
Photograph by Claudia Mulzer, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê

The researchers make use of a large arsenal of modern and traditional techniques to assist landowners in reducing existing conflicts, and no two situations are the same. Sometimes a GPS collar may provide useful insights into the local movements of big cat – information that can subsequently be shared and assessed together with the landowner – other times guardian animals or thorn bush bomas are better suited to prevent further conflict.

Some conflict properties have been visited as many as 17 times to deal with livestock depredation issues. Farmers appreciate being taken seriously on their carnivore issues and many are willing to review their local management practices in the process.

In May 2014, a leopard trapped on a commercial livestock ranch in central Namibia became N/a’an ku sê’s 500th big predator conflict case. The vast majority of these animals (over 400) have been released immediately to keep contributing to the wild gene pool. In other situations, rehabilitation of an orphaned or conflict predator may be required. Lethal control is only necessary under rare circumstances and, although individual predators can cause significant economic damage, most landowners seek alternative solutions.

Leopard male in a trap. Photograph by Florian Weise, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê
Leopard male in a trap. Photograph by Florian Weise, courtesy of N/a’an ku sê

Such large-scale initiatives require a lot of effort and help to be effective in conserving predators at the population level. National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative has been one of the main supporters of N/a’an ku sê’s predator programme since 2012. The BCI has provided not only significant financial support but also assists with analyses of conflict mitigation data to arrive at the right conclusions for future carnivore management strategies.

Comments

  1. Michael Williams
    United Kingdom
    July 5, 2014, 9:52 pm

    The World population is set to rise to 11billion by this century end, Africa’s population currently is 1billion, set to rise to 4billion by the end of this century! That’s a massive Four times the population is now! Therefore, farming will increase to sustain human life, therefore, farming and farmers WILL encroach on predators hunting grounds! So where will land be found to sustain predators? Do farmers really care? Money talks and makes the World go round, so do farmers really care?? I personally doubt it, some will, but the majority in reality?? Only time will tell.

    Build an “ARK” and ship Wildlife to South America where the human pollution will remain almost unchanged this century and near in mind the South America was part of Africa?

    Is this possible??

  2. Sam
    New York, USA
    June 28, 2014, 11:04 pm

    This is really sad. We should be more educated about this. Increase awareness so we can move forward for the better.

  3. Har Dayal Dawra
    Gurgaon, North India
    June 20, 2014, 3:35 am

    The cats are assets of nature. So beautiful, so egile, man has proved a barbarian who mindlessly simply destroyed wildlife for his own selfish end. Unfortunately most of the Governments have proved ineffective rather aided poachers. One Indian king boasted of having killed 101 tigers. Shame, shame.

  4. Elke Zimmermann
    Germany
    June 19, 2014, 12:50 pm

    In April 2014 a neighbour of Harnas Wildlife Foundation Shot 2 collard joung cheetahs! He knew, the Harnas crew was surching them. He ignored!

  5. Paulo Alves
    Lisbon,Portugal
    June 19, 2014, 10:26 am

    The conflicts will never end until manking stops to invade animals inhabitats,simple as that!