Photograph courtesy Botswana Predator Conservation Trust
Grantee: J. Weldon "Tico" McNutt, Ph.D.
About the Project
The aims of this project, led by Big Cats Initiative grantee J. Weldon "Tico" McNutt, Ph.D., are to evaluate and address the primary causes of conflicts between large carnivores, specifically lions, and the local farming community south of the veterinary cordon fence in the Santawani area of northern Botswana.
The lion population in the Santawani area has been in decline since 2000. Estimates from previous researchers put the total number of adult lions at 34 individuals, while the team's current estimates for the same area have dwindled to 12. There is evidence that lions that cross the veterinary cordon fence have been shot or poisoned; in some cases entire prides have been wiped out. Current estimates of 1.6 lions per 100 square kilometers are half the estimated density presented in 1998. However, the current pride demographics suggest that recruitment potential is high if conflicts on the other side of the cordon fence are mitigated.
The project team will first interview the heads of household in 73 cattle posts that have been mapped and registered within the study area to assess education, attitude, livestock husbandry, and predator-management practices. Team members will organize and run a workshop to provide information about livestock husbandry and techniques for mitigating livestock loss with government officials and experts in large-carnivore ecology. During this workshop the proposed insurance program will be presented. This program would provide coverage to those participants that use the techniques from the workshop and stop retaliatory killing of large carnivores in the area.
The research team will regularly visit and monitor the farmers at their cattle posts to assist with cattle enclosure construction or improvement and identify difficulties or causes of resistance among participants.
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