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  • Writer's pictureDipanjan Naha

Carnivore, livestock and humans- Living along the edge of Etosha National Park

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

Human-wildlife conflicts at the interface of protected areas and farmlands are a common problem worldwide. The conflicts are severe when large mammals are involved and local residents don’t want to tolerate them in their backyard. Where humans and wildlife overlap in the use of common areas and resources such as water, the competition become intense, and the problem gets worse if resources are limited. Managing such conflicts then becomes a serious conservation challenge. In the Greater Etosha Landscape (GEL), freehold and communal lands border the Etosha National Park. Some of Etosha’s neighbours farm commercially whereas others grow food for domestic consumption and keep livestock which are sometimes killed by carnivores venturing out of the National Park. These incidents provoke retaliatory killings and lead to negative perceptions of carnivores, and wildlife in general. Resolving such problems often requires a detailed understanding of the issues surrounding human-large mammal conflicts. Our current research focusses on documenting the spatial and temporal overlap of carnivore and livestock activity and socio-economic aspects of human-carnivore conflicts along the periphery of Etosha.

Deploying GPS collars on lions & spotted hyaenas.

To understand and monitor the dynamic interactions between large carnivores and livestock we attached GPS collars to lions and spotted hyenas and GPS ear-tags on cattle and goats in July and August 2022. The collaring was a collaborative exercise by the Etosha Ecological Institute, Ongava Research Centre, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, University of Namibia and University of Georgia. This project is part of the large scale Greater Etosha Carnivore Programme. We focussed on the north-eastern and north-central areas where communal and freehold lands border the Park. Veterinary support was provided by the University of Namibia during their Vet School field training programme.

Data from these GPS devices will help us learn more about the seasonal and daily movements of carnivores and livestock and the influence of local environmental conditions. The collared individuals might provide interesting information on carnivore behaviour (space use and activity for instance) during the day when livestock are grazing, but also at night when livestock are kept in bomas.

Ear tagging livestock with GPS trackers.

We will also investigate livestock herding practices and identify favoured grazing pastures around Etosha. This work will also engage livestock farmers in monitoring human-carnivore interactions, build local support and hopefully lessen livestock depredation and retaliatory killings of carnivores within the Greater Etosha Landscape.

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