OTJIWARONGO, Namibia – 6 May 2020 – The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) conducted a comprehensive assessment of conflict with farmers in Namibia’s eastern communal conservancies as part of a long-term integrative management plan. CCF found that farmers surveyed lost on average 8% of their livestock to predators in just one year, which equals an annual estimated cost of $2,848 USD per farmer.
This amount is high compared to other areas across sub-Saharan Africa and highlights the severity of this conflict. The CCF study, Assessing human conflicts with carnivores in Namibia’s eastern communal conservancies, was recently published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife (DOI:10.1080/10871209.2020.1758253). The study is authored by Stijn Verschueren, Willem D. Briers-Louw, Carolina Torres-Uribe, Annetjie Siyaya, Laurie Marker of CCF.
Livestock depredation causes severe economic costs for farmers across Africa, which motivates retaliatory killings of predators, which is why CCF’s teams conduct research and work closely with farmers to reduce carnivore conflict.
The new study also determined that variability in livestock losses is high between farmers, with some farmers losing up to 50 head of stock or more, while others did not lose livestock at all. This information helps identify areas where CCF and other organizations should prioritize mitigation efforts, because the territory being studied is an extremely large area.
CCF researchers also found that the canids in this area, i.e. the African wild dog and the black-backed jackal, are responsible for the majority of reported livestock attacks. Jackals are opportunistic hunters and often prey upon smallstock, while African wild dogs prefer cattle when wild prey is scarce. In addition to research activities concerning the biology and conservation of cheetahs, CCF’s team is putting considerable effort into understanding and protecting African wild dogs in the eastern communal conservancies, as they have long been understudied and heavily persecuted.
“CCF’s approach in this area targets both the well-being of local people and the survival of predators in this ecosystem. We have been organizing conservation-based workshops with a focus on rangeland management, livestock husbandry and the value of carnivores within the ecosystem. Preliminary results show that these workshops are very effective in reducing conflict!” said Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director. “Furthermore, we operate a permanent hotline to quickly respond to conflict situations and we offer free veterinary services for domestic and livestock animals when in the villages. Recently, we also completed a biodiversity survey to estimate abundance and distribution of carnivores and other wildlife in the area. Additional research will inform us how habitat characteristics and human activities shape their distributions, which will be important for future restoration efforts.
CCF’s active presence in the area ensured mutual trust and long-standing relations. Yet, the current high costs from livestock depredation and the low wildlife numbers in this region are preventing these conservancies from developing towards viable, multiple-use landscapes. Therefore, CCF is dedicated to continuing its community work in this area to promote sustainable co-existence, benefitting both people and predators.
CCF Farmer Hotline:
CCF operates a 24-hour farmer support hotline implemented by the Large Carnivore Association of Namibia (LCMAN). CCF staff offer advice on cheetah, African wild dog, and other carnivores, and provide access to a network of partner organisations to assist with HWC in different regions of Namibia with a variety of carnivore species. The public is encouraged to use this hotline service.
+264 81 227 5139
Cheetah Conservation Fund
Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. Founded in 1990, CCF is an international non-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia. CCF is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, making it the longest running and most successful cheetah conservation organisation. For more information, please visit www.cheetah.org.