Farming with Predators - Human-wildlife conflict in Namibia

Why this research project?

A 2011 survey by the Northern Cape RPO claimed direct annual livestock losses of R540 847 496.00 in the Northern Cape province of South Africa due to predators (RPO 2011). This suggests that current predator-control methods on livestock farms are not effective or sustainable. The survey also suggests that these methods have dire effects on the biodiversity of farmlands. In Namibia the importance of livestock farming together with a high level of unemployment and wide-spread poverty in rural areas makes it imperative that a workable alternative be given to livestock and game farmers in order to ensure sustainable ecosystems for future generations.

A Livestock farm is part of a whole eco-system, especially in a country like Namibia where our farmers are mostly dependant on natural grazing for livestock. Predators form an important part of any ecosystem and help keep the balance in nature and prevent problems like overgrazing. It has been suggested that the removal of leopards lead to an increase in the number of meso-predators, specifically caracals and black-backed jackals, both species subject to leopard depredation. One study also suggested that most ecosystems are actually top-down controlled ([Estes et al., 2011]) and that removal of top predators can cause cascading effects with extinctions of many species. It follows that an ecosystem without its full complement of predators might not be able to deliver ecosystem services (like good grazing) sustainably, in addition to the wider loss in biodiversity.

In Namibia 90% of our cheetahs are found on farmlands, outside conserved areas. In addition Namibia is one of the last countries inf the world where cheetahs can still be found and the country with the single largest surviving cheetah population. Since cheetahs do not survive well in fenced conservation areas with larger predators like lions and spotted hyaenas, the worldwide survival of cheetahs might be in the hands of Namibian farmers. This is just one more reason why practical solutions for the current conflict between farmers and predators must be found. This research project wants to find new solutions, as well as determining which of the current methods work best, so that livestock farmers can farm profitably with predators on their land, instead of fighting against nature all the time.

For farmers...

  • Chavoux Luyt
  • Cell: +264 813124789
  • Fax: 0864410093
  • E-mail: chavoux [by] gmail [punt] com
  • Postal Address:
    P.O. Box 1755

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