Research Summary: Determinants of Persistence and Tolerance of Carnivores on Namibian Ranches: Implications for Conservation on Southern African Private Lands
Changing land use patterns in southern Africa have potential to dramatically alter the prospects for carnivore conservation. Understanding these influences is essential for conservation planning. We interviewed 250 ranchers in Namibia to assess human tolerance towards and the distribution of large carnivores. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), leopards (Panthera pardus) and brown hyaenas (Hyaena brunnea) were widely distributed on Namibian farmlands, spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) had a narrower distribution, and wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and lions (Panthera leo) are largely limited to areas near source populations. Farmers were most tolerant of leopards and least tolerant of lions, wild dogs and spotted hyaenas. Several factors relating to land use correlated consistently with carnivore-presence and landowner tolerance. Carnivores were more commonly present and/or tolerated where; wildlife diversity and biomass were higher; income from wildlife was higher; income from livestock was lower; livestock biomass was lower; in conservancies; game fencing was absent; and financial losses from livestock depredation were lower. Efforts to create conditions whereby the costs associated with carnivores are lowest, and which confer financial value to them are likely to be the most effective means of promoting carnivore conservation. Such conditions are achieved where land owners pool land to create conservancies where livestock are replaced with wildlife (or where livestock husbandry is improved) and where wildlife generates a significant proportion of ranch income. Additional measures, such as promoting improved livestock husbandry and educational outreach efforts may also help achieve coexistence with carnivores. Our findings provide insights into conditions more conducive to the persistence of and tolerance towards large carnivores might be increased on private (and even communal) lands in Namibia, elsewhere in southern and East Africa and other parts of the world where carnivore conservation is being attempted on private lands.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 9-January-2013
Author(s): Lindsey P., Havemann C., Lines R., Palazy L., Price A., Retief T., Rhebergen T., Van der Waal C.