5 December 2017 Living on the edge: characteristics of human–wildlife conflict in a traditional livestock community in Botswana
J. Weldon McNutt, Andrew B. Stein, Lesley Boggs McNutt, Neil R. Jordan
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Context. Conflicts between wildlife and humans have occurred for millennia, and are major drivers of wildlife decline. To promote coexistence, Botswana established buffer zones called wildlife-management areas (WMAs) adjacent to National Parks and Reserves where communities assume stewardship of wildlife and derive financial benefits from it. In contrast, communities outside WMAs are generally excluded from these benefits despite incurring ‘coexistence costs’, including crop damage and livestock depredation, although they may receive compensation for these losses.

Aims. To investigate the perceptions and actions of a livestock farming community outside (but surrounded by) WMAs in northern Botswana, especially in relation to predator management.

Methods. We conducted standard-format interviews with 62 heads of households (cattleposts), and evaluated responses using descriptive and multivariate statistics.

Key results. Almost half (46%) of respondents expressed negative perceptions of predators, with 67% reporting losses to predation. After disease, predation was the most commonly reported source of livestock losses. Increased age of the head of household was the strongest predictor of reported predation. Few households employed husbandry beyond kraaling at night, but some (21%) reported conducting lethal control of predators. Reported use of lethal control was independent of the household experience with predation and whether they derived financial benefits from wildlife. Instead, households with larger herds were more likely to report using lethal control, despite the most educated farmers tending to have larger herds. Lethal control was almost twice as likely in households previously denied government compensation for losses (42%) than in those granted compensation (23%). Perhaps as a result of perceived failures of the government compensation scheme, most households (91%) supported the development of an independent insurance program, with 67% expressing willingness to pay a premium.

Conclusions. Our results challenge the assumption that deriving financial benefit from wildlife increases tolerance. A measurable disconnect also exists between the willingness of a household to employ lethal control and their experience with predation, suggesting that lethal control was used pre-emptively rather than reactively.

Implications. Efforts must be made to connect the financial costs incurred during farming alongside wildlife with the financial benefits derived from wildlife. Where compensation schemes exist, timely payments may reduce retaliatory killing.

© CSIRO 2017
J. Weldon McNutt, Andrew B. Stein, Lesley Boggs McNutt, and Neil R. Jordan "Living on the edge: characteristics of human–wildlife conflict in a traditional livestock community in Botswana," Wildlife Research 44(6–7), 546-557, (5 December 2017). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR16160
Received: 26 August 2016; Accepted: 19 August 2017; Published: 5 December 2017
conservation management
human dimensions
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