Another of the top priorities that villagers would like to see as a result of carnivore presence is better access to veterinary medicines. This is important as livestock are crucial economic and cultural assets in these traditional pastoralist societies, and our research has shown that disease kills around 9 times as much livestock as predators do. We hope that by improving access to high-quality veterinary medicines, it will not only demonstrate a clear benefit from wildlife presence on village land, but will also reduce overall livestock losses, thereby improving local household economic security and also hopefully improving tolerance towards any remaining losses to depredation.
Initially, it was clear that the demand for veterinary medicines was too high for us to provide it to everyone. Therefore, we started a programme where anyone who had contributed towards a predator-proofed livestock enclosure (everyone has to pay 25% of the cost) was eligible to receive subsidised veterinary medicines. This was very popular and helped incentivise engagement in the predator-proofing boma programme, which was in its early stages.
More recently, we have been able to provide veterinary medicines at a wider scale through the community camera-trapping programme. One-third of the benefits generated by the village is given as high-quality veterinary medicines, which are bought according to that specific village’s needs. These are handed over to the pastoralist association, village leaders and veterinary officers, who ensure that they are used correctly and have maximum positive impact for the villagers. For the more traditional pastoralists in particular, this is one of our most important and valuable community benefit initiatives, and gives them a real incentive to become engaged in wildlife conservation as it has a direct, positive impact upon their livestock.