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CCF publishes scientific paper on livestock predation in eastern communal areas

CCF publishes scientific paper on livestock predation in eastern communal areas

The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has published another scientific paper that investigates the sore point of conflict between wild predators and communal farmers eking out an existence in conservancies in Namibia’s eastern communal areas.

According to a wide-cast survey conducted at grassroots level, average losses per farmer make up about 8% of their herds, coming to just over US$2800 per farmer per year. According to CCF this loss is high compared to other areas in sub-Sahara Africa, reflecting the severity of the local problem.

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 and Laurie Marker of  CCF.

Due to the substantial collective losses, local farmers, despite farming in conservancies, often resort to retaliatory killing of predators. The CCF study was conducted in an attempt to understand the dynamics of livestock predation by wild predators, and to try and design practical, realistic solution to reduce this type of conflict.

CCF has a solid track record of addressing human wildlife conflict over nearly thirty years. It has designed many innovative solutions in other parts of Namibia where livestock predation has been reduced substantially by introducing herd management changes and simple preventative measures.

Through the new study, CCF 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,” stated the CCF researchers.

They 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 on 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 Marker, the fund’s Executive Director.

“Furthermore, we operate a permanent hotline (+264 81 227 5139) to respond quickly 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.”

The CCF said it is dedicated to continuing its community work in this area to promote sustainable co-existence, benefitting both people and predators.


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