Africa Program: Human-Wildlife Conflict
We can all agree that wildlife has value. The value that people associate with wildlife can take multiple forms, one of which is the importance of wildlife to human society. When a species loses its societal value, the regard for the well-being of individual animals and the overall population status of the species may diminish. An instance where a species might lose value is the realm of human-wildlife conflict. Far too often, over-abundant or species with certain life history strategies have been reduced in status from game animal or furbearer to a nuisance. The risk is that the general public has little regard for the game species conservationists who worked so hard to bring back from the brink of extinction.
Wildlife Damage Management (WDM) is the process of using various tools and techniques to alleviate human-wildlife conflicts. Through WDM, individual animals causing damage to crops, depredating livestock, serving as disease vectors or threatening human health and safety may be appropriately managed. Harassment, exclusion (changes in husbandry practices), trapping and hunting are some of the most prescribed methods for reducing conflicts with wildlife. Many techniques used to alleviate conflicts are species-specific or even specific to a particular locality and time.
˵Recently, conflicts between humans and wildlife became one of the biggest obstacles for community-based natural resource management in Zimbabwe. However, the support of rural communities is critical to the success of wildlife conservation.˶
– Charles Jonga, CAMPFIRE Zimbabwe
SCI Foundation is committed to working with partners around the world to reduce human-wildlife conflict, from white-tailed deer or African elephants damaging crocs to large carnivores depredating livestock. One SCI Foundation project dedicated $19,000 to the Tarangire Ecosystem of Tanzania that combined predator population monitoring, public outreach, land-use mapping, and livestock depredation abatement.
Recently, SCI Foundation contributed $20,000 to manage conflicts between humans and wildlife in Zimbabwe. In collaboration with Charles Jonga, Director of Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority, SCI Foundation is continuing to assist communities in securing their livelihoods while conserving wildlife. During the 1980s and 1990s, CAMPFIRE fostered a diversified economy on marginal lands adjacent to Protected Areas (PA) that included consumptive and non-consumptive wildlife tourism. The current partnership between CAMPFIRE, Parks & Wildlife Authority, and SCI Foundation will work to develop a community-based wildlife conflict strategy whereby Problem Animal Control (PAC) response mitigates damage and ultimately prevents poaching. Public education to eliminate retaliatory killing with indiscriminant methods will be an important component of the project. Reducing illegal activity by having an effective system to address problem animals will undoubtedly be favorable to future wildlife-dependent recreation in Zimbabwe.
For the North American Model of Wildlife Management to work and be applied internationally, wildlife must retain a utilitarian status among the general public and not simply be regarded as a pest. If the local people do not appreciate the contributions provided by maintaining certain species on the landscape, there is little hope of sustainable use in the future.
The $20,000 funded by SCI Foundation to Zimbabwe for human-wildlife conflict resolution will help to provide economic stability and thus contribute to sustainable use of wildlife in the region. The objective is to increase acceptance of wildlife conservation initiatives through education and reducing the negative impact of wildlife on local communities. According to the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the European Union (FACE), community-based natural resource management programs are highly promising for wildlife conservation through poverty reduction. Economic benefits including increased crop yields and revenue from science-based hunting programs directly stimulate the communities involved.
The focus of this study for 2011 was to collect sufficient supporting evidence to justify removing spotted hyaenas from the trophy hunting quota for Bwabwata National Park (BNP). The aims and objectives are: (1) Identify the number of clans, clan size, clan structure, home range size, density, population demography, and trans-boundary movements of spotted hyaenas living within the hunting concessions of BNP; (2) Monitor changes in the Kwando Clan (long-term study clan in the Kwando Core Area); (3) Capture individuals from the clan bordering the Kwando Clan for future research; (4) Examine livestock practices within BNP and suggest HWC mitigation; (5) Assess the sustainability of trophy hunting of spotted hyaenas in BNP.
Methods & Research
Baiting took place between April and December 2011. The bait sites within the multiple-use area were established only once hyaena spoor had been found after extensive tracking and searching effort. Bait trees were chosen for their height, robustness, accessibility by vehicle and visibility for darting activities. Baits consisted of beef and goats bought from the community as well as chicken and occasionally game meat supplied by MET during collaborative field work. Bait is hoisted high up the tree on a steel cable, out of reach of hyaenas. Bones, meat offcuts and chicken pieces were spread around the base of the tree so that hyaenas would be rewarded for their visits to keep them returning. Scent trails consisting of decomposed blood were laid from the bait along tracks and game trails at distances between 10 meters and 13 kilometers.
|Known hyaena distribution in Caprivi Region.|
Each bait site, except for the two along the Susuwe/Angola track were monitored by an infra-red camera placed approximately five meters away and set to take a photo at intervals ranging from 15 seconds to one minute. The camera settings at Weyaxa pan were changed to take video clips of up to a minute long to record behaviour. Due to previous hyaena damage, all cameras were placed inside metal housings.
Photos and video footage were downloaded at intervals between two days to one week unless active capture attempts were taking place in the area in which case downloads occurred every morning. Areas surrounding the bait sites were monitored in the morning for spoor of all large carnivores and recorded on GPS for the Carnivore Atlas project.
Field activities including setting up bait sites, tracking, capture, handling of immobilized hyaenas and monitoring. Training in field techniques took place during this time. Spoor-based data is due to the tracking skills of the community.
Satellite collars were manufactured by AWT in South Africa. GPSˊs inside the collars are set to take six locations every 24 hours. The collars also record temperature and speed of hyaena movement. Data is transmitted from the collar via satellite and can be downloaded either as KML data to be used in Google Earth or in Excel, which can be imported into GIS software. Data access codes are shared with both METˊs DSS and WWF in Namibia as project partners.
Human-wildlife conflict work was carried out by recording position of observed livestock while driving between the Kongola checkpoint and Chetto and when driving on tracks into the interior of BNP. Species and group size was also noted as well as livestock position in relation to human activity. Herding/guarding activities or lack thereof was recorded. The possibility of livestock encounters with hyaenas was established by comparing livestock locations to hyaena home range use. Some livestock kraals were looked at, but predation on kraaled livestock within villages is extremely rare.
Hyaena locations occurring within a radius of 500 meters, 1 kilometer, and 2 kilometers of each village were compared to the total number of locations from the collar data to assess whether hyaenas were targeting areas of frequent livestock occurrence. Hyaena location data was examined for times of activity in order to guide livestock guarding vigilance efforts.