Assessing human conflicts with carnivores in Namibia’s eastern communal conservancies

  • May 5, 2020
  • by Verschueren S., Briers-Louw W. D., Torres-Uribe C., Siyaya A., Marker L. L.

Livestock depredation has severe socio-economic impacts on local communities. Consequently, carnivores are often persecuted because of actual or perceived threats to livestock. Perceptions of threats are often shaped by underlying socio-cultural values, which make resolving human conflicts with carnivores complex. We conducted questionnaires with local farmers (n = 276) at workshops to assess annual livestock depredation rates in Namibia’s eastern communal conservancies. On average, farmers lost 8% of total herd size to depredation, with high variability among respondents. The main predators were African wild dog and black-backed jackal. Depredation intensified with herd size and carnivore familiarity (i.e., better carnivore identification skills and more frequent carnivore encounters). We suggest that patterns of depredation are predicted by carnivore occurrence and we recommend spatial modeling of risk to prioritize mitigation efforts. Reported livestock husbandry practices used before workshops were apparently ineffective, which might be attributed to lack of knowledge and/or resources.

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