Poverty aggravates problem of livestock predation

Human–wildlife conflict has historically been portrayed as a management problem where solutions lie in technical changes or financial incentives.

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However, a recent research study by Niki Rust, Joseph Tzanopoulos, Tatyana Humle and Douglas MacMillan, titled ‘Why has human-carnivore conflict not been resolved in Namibia’, found that many conflicts stemmed from social, economic, and political drivers.

The study was based on interviews with 22 farmers, 26 farm workers, and 21 unemployed farm workers on livestock farms to determine whether relationships between farmers and their workers affected frequency of reported livestock predation in Namibia.

It was found that social and economic inequalities that still remained as a remnant of the previous political system could be blamed, in part, for some instances of predation. “Macro- and micro level socioeconomic problems created an environment where livestock predation was exacerbated by unmotivated farm workers,” the study stated.

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“Successfully addressing this situation therefore requires recognition and understanding of its complexity, rather than reducing it to its most simplistic parts.”

The study further found that poverty in the region was responsible for an increase in the number of game animals being killed for food, which resulted in fewer of these animals being left for predators to prey on.

Conflict between livestock farmers and predators increased as the predators became more dependent on livestock for their food. Workers who didn’t earn good wages also sometimes stole livestock for consumption or to earn extra income. Predators then often received the blame for the losses.

Click on the link to read the full study.