Conflict with humans is one of the most significant threats facing large carnivores. Carnivores rely heavily on unprotected land – across Africa, around half of lion range and three-quarters of cheetah range is outside formally protected areas. On this land, they frequently kill livestock and sometimes even people, imposing major economic and social costs on local villagers, who receive few or no benefits to offset those costs. Unsurprisingly, people poison, snare and spear carnivores either in retaliation for attacks on their stock, or to prevent such attacks occurring. Poisoning in particular can have devastating effects on multiple species, often including critically endangered vultures.
RCP is developing livestock protection strategies to help reduce the impacts of livestock loss, such as predator-proofing enclosures and placing livestock guarding dogs.
In addition, we work closely with communities to provide tangible benefits from the presence of wildlife on their land, particularly through investment in education, healthcare and veterinary health.
There is also an element of cultural killing, where young men kill lions for status and wealth, which we are addressing through our Lion Defenders programme.
We monitor the effects of our conflict mitigation measures by training and employing conflict officers in local villages. Those officers collect regular data on over 500 households across the study area, and respond to any carnivore attacks. Their information helps us better understand the patterns of carnivore attacks and therefore develop the most appropriate strategies for preventing them in the future.