University of Helsinki
Department of Biosciences
carnivores Communal farmland conservation biology farmers human-wildlife conflict illegal behaviour interdisciplinarity land management decisions livestock farming poison use predators scavenger conservation social-psychology vultures wildlife crime
Farmers using poison to control livestock predators is a major threat to vulture populations in Namibia and across Africa. In order to develop effective conservation strategies, it is important to understand the socio-ecological drivers that trigger poison use by farmers. While we know what these drivers are on the commercial farms of Namibia, the situation in the communal farmlands is not well understood. We aim to interview communal farmers in order to understand how frequently, why, which and how poisons are used. We will also assess the perception of communal farmers towards vultures and their conservation.
Christie Craig, Robert Thomson, Holger Kolberg
Socio-ecological factors influencing illegal use of poison by farmers in Namibia - Implications for reconciling human activities and vulture conservation
There is an increasing surge in the conflict between farmers and carnivores in Namibia (as well as in many other areas). Namibian farmers are living on the edge between making economic profit or suffering losses from their activities every year. Loss of livestock predated by carnivores (such as lions, leopards, jackals) may significantly negatively affect the unstable economic balance of farmers at the end of the year. As a response, farmers have started to apply an easy-to-implement, yet illegal, solution consisting in the administration of poisons to predated livestock carcasses. Such practice not only kills carnivores, as in the farmers wish, but has repercussions on the entire ecosystem, with vulture species seemingly the most negatively, yet indirectly, affected. This project will use an interdisciplinary approach to understand the factors that most importantly affect the use of poison by farmers in Namibia. It will also allow to quantify and map the use of poison across the country. The map will pinpoint the major hotspots of poison use where conservation efforts should be focused in order to resolve the conflict between farmers and wildlife.
Peter Bridgeford, Holger Kolberg