Human–wildlife conflict in unprotected areas, especially those bordering reserves, has resulted in the global home range and population size reduction of naturally occurring wildlife. Simultaneously, rural communities and commercial farmlands at the interface of human development and natural habitat face severe threats to their livelihoods and agricultural security, often resulting in the vast eradication of real or perceived damage-causing animals (DCAs). The knowledge of local people was relied on to elucidate the dynamic and interwoven social, economic and ecological factors giving rise to the largely undocumented conflict between landowners and wildlife adjacent to the Boland Mountain Complex, South Africa. Subsequently, the spatial location of observed and expected zones of species-specific risk on a regional level was anticipated and mapped using a maximum entropy algorithm. The highest level of tolerance by farmers was shown for primates and ungulates, while tolerance for carnivores, avifauna and invasive or feral species were comparatively lower. The results presented in this manuscript will enable the prioritization of locations and species to create improved mitigation and management plans. It will furthermore provide for more accurate allocation of conservation resources to minimize conflicts, optimize agricultural yield, reduce wildlife off-take, and ultimately ameliorate human–wildlife conflict.
Ecological Niche Modelling