Original Research

Farmer–African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) relations in the eastern Kalahari region of Botswana

Valli-Laurente Fraser-Celin, Alice J. Hovorka, Mark Hovork, Glyn Maude
Koedoe | Vol 59, No 2 | a1366 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v59i2.1366 | © 2017 Valli-Laurente Fraser-Celin, Alice J. Hovorka, Mark Hovork, Glyn Maude | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 October 2015 | Published: 23 May 2017

About the author(s)

Valli-Laurente Fraser-Celin, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Canada
Alice J. Hovorka, Department of Geography, University of Guelph; Department of Geography and Planning, Queen’s University, Canada
Mark Hovork, Private, Ottawa Ontario, Canada
Glyn Maude, Kalahari Research and Conservation group, Maun, Botswana; Conservation and Research, Denver Zoo, United States


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Abstract

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are the most endangered large carnivores in southern Africa. Direct and indirect persecution by farmers causes significant conservation challenges. Farmer– wild dog conflict in Botswana commonly occurs as a result of cattle and stocked game depredation by wild dogs, affecting farmer livelihood and causing economic and emotional distress. Although wild dogs predate livestock at lower levels than other carnivores, they continue to be killed both indiscriminately and in retaliation for incidents of depredation. Investigating farmer–wild dog conflict is a necessary step towards establishing appropriate conflict mitigation strategies. Eighty livestock and game farmers were interviewed in order to examine farmers’ value of, perceptions of and experiences with wild dogs as well as their insights on wild dog impacts and conservation in the eastern Kalahari region of Botswana. Interviews were semi-structured and used open-ended questions to capture complexities surrounding farmer–wild dog relations. This research contributes baseline data on wild dogs in understudied tribal land and commercial livestock and game farms in eastern Kalahari. It confirms the presence of wild dogs, livestock and stocked game depredation by wild dogs and negative perspectives amongst farmers towards wild dogs and their conservation. Mean losses were 0.85 livestock per subsistence farmer, 1.25 livestock per commercial livestock farmer, while game farmers lost 95.88 game animals per farmer during January 2012 through June 2013. Proportionally, more subsistence farmers than commercial livestock farmers and game farmers held negative perspectives of wild dogs (χ ² = 9.63, df = 2, p < 0.05). Farmer type, education level, socioeconomic status and land tenure, as well as positive wild dog characteristics should be considered when planning and operationalising conflict mitigation strategies. As such, conservation approaches should focus on conservation education schemes, improved wild prey base for wild dogs, poverty alleviation, and community engagement in order to offer long-term opportunities for addressing farmer–wild dog conflict in Botswana.

Conservation implications: Our research contributes to wild dog conservation in Botswana by confirming the presence of wild dogs and the occurrence of livestock and stocked game depredation in previously understudied tribal land and commercial livestock and game farms in eastern Kalahari. To improve predominately negative perceptions of wild dogs and reduce conflict, practitioners should focus their efforts on conservation education schemes, improved wild prey base for wild dogs, poverty alleviation, and community engagement.


Keywords

African Wild Dogs; Lycaon pictus; Botswana; Southern Africa; human-wildlife conflict; human dimensions; perceptions; livestock depredation

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