The overall objective is to obtain a better understanding of ecological and socio-economic factors associated with human-lion conflicts and identify patterns related to success and failure of mitigation strategies,including adapted capacity of farmers, with a view of integrating these factors so as to promote coexistence between humans and lions in the Boteti area.
Researcher: Keitumetse Ngaka
Region: Boteti area, Botswana
Organization: University of Botswana
Lion populations in sub-Saharan Africa have decreased significantly in both the number and distribution during the last few decades. The decrease has been attributed to decline in prey species, habitat destruction, disease and increased conflict with pastoral farming especially along the borders of conservation areas. In particular, prey availability and human-lion conflict has been suggested as the primary factors influencing human carnivore interface. Population dynamics of prey species, both wild and domestic, has been reported to influence the rate at which lions raid livestock.
Despite many attempts to understand human-lion conflict, little attention has been paid to the integration of the influence of prey species and livestock husbandry findings into human-lion conflict management and mitigations. Attempted mitigations were either biased towards the socio-economic value of farmers which in most cases lead to negative effects on lion or were biased towards lion protection which had a negative impact on livelihoods of communities that depend on pastoral farming. In recent years, the latter became dominant and legal instruments were put in place to protect carnivores. This has led to a persistent increase in human-lion conflicts, which in turn lead to farmers becoming less tolerant of lions and hence persecuting them and developing illegal behaviours.
- To compare livestock depredation frequencies before and after fence erection and with the Boteti River flow.
- To compare lions’ home-range size before and after river flow.
- To compare location and time of lion kills before and after fence erection and river flow.
- To compare farmers’ perceptions towards the conflict before and after fence and river flow.
- To compare lion abundance before and after river flow.
Data collection will focus on:
Lion Spatial Data
Satellite collared lions are always checked for their locations every time and place where internet can be accessed. Satellite telemetry can alleviate many of the drawbacks encountered with conventional telemetry. Factors such as hazardous weather, darkness and extensive animal movements do not hinder this system. Another important advantage is that satellite-compatible transmitters can monitor the animal’s environment and behaviour. Lastly, radio-tracking equipment mostly preferred by biologists uses VHF, which has limited reception range therefore being a setback especially for animals moving long distances or inhabiting remote or mountainous areas.
Lion Diet Composition
Lion faecal samples – these will be collected into envelopes then placed on an open space to dry. Hair samples from these collected samples will be sent for laboratory analysis to identify which prey was consumed by that particular lion.
GPS points cluster – each lion’s movements will be plotted using ArcGIS software. Points where a lion seems to have spent more time will be thoroughly assessed since there are chances that it might have had a kill.
Other lion diet data will be requested from Problem Animal Control (PAC) staff and through interviews with some farmers. GPS will be used to plot the points where a kill occurred. Data collected from PAC, before fence erection and river flow, will be compared with data collected after fence erection and river flow.