Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) are one of the few dangerous predators regularly found outside protected wildlife areas. This is particularly so in northeastern Namibia where an extensive network of rivers and wetlands coupled with successful conservation measures has allowed crocodile populations to flourish since uncontrolled exploitation ended over three decades ago. This area is predominantly communal land characterized by numerous subsistence communities dependent on river and wetland resources. In recent years, the combination of a growing human population and resurgent crocodile populations has resulted in considerable conflict between humans and crocodiles. The principle objective of this study was to quantify the impact of crocodiles on rural livelihoods. Data were obtained from existing records and through community surveys on the lower Kavango, Chobe and Kwando rivers and upper Zambezi River. Existing estimates suggest an annual loss of ∼255 domestic cattle per year for northeastern Namibia whilst community survey estimates suggest a substantially greater annual loss of ∼6864 cattle per year. Community surveys also revealed conflict between crocodiles and artisinal fishermen, with an estimated 71 500 fishing nets damaged by crocodiles per year. Human-crocodile conflict in Namibia may have greater impacts than previously assumed, and may undermine conservation and development objectives.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1