Photograph courtesy Florian Weise
Biologist Florian Weise leads the research and conservation teams for the N/a’an ku sê Foundation, which works to protect and improve the lives of the people and wildlife of Namibia.
With six free-ranging large carnivore species as well as about 3,500 commercial livestock farms, human-carnivore conflicts are inevitable in Namibia. The resulting persecution of perceived conflict predators (mainly cheetah and leopard) is often unselective and can have grave consequences for populations.
However, many landowners are looking for solutions to protect their livestock from depredation and are willing to co-exist with cheetahs, leopards, and lions if losses stay within acceptable levels.
Weise’s work focuses on effective conflict mitigation tools that are founded on applied research and monitoring of large predators. Both traditional and novel techniques are employed and empirically tested on livestock ranches. The project provides direct assistance and technical expertise through consultations with affected landowners in order to increase tolerance of cheetahs and leopards and thus ensure the long-term survival of viable populations of these species in Namibia's stock farming areas.
Conflict is often accelerated by the fact that livestock protection measures are inadequate. Where this is the case, the following cost-effective and practical improvements are encouraged: suitable guardian animals and herders, thorn-bush kraals for vulnerable livestock, use of traditional aggressive livestock breeds, and application of lion scat as a bio-repellent in calving areas. Combinations of these measures have resulted in reduction of livestock losses of up to 88 percent%.
Emphasis is always placed on proactive conflict prevention rather than symptomatic, reactive large carnivore management. The researchers GPS-tag free-ranging carnivores and share movement data with landowners on a daily basis.
In general, the idea is to work together with landowners and create more information about carnivores on livestock lands. New insights can subsequently be applied to devise a tailor-made coexistence strategy for each farm. This approach has already proven effective in reducing motivations to persecute large predators.
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