Our research revealed that 65% of carnivore attacks occurred within poorly protected livestock enclosures (known locally as bomas), which are usually made of thornbush. These attacks can have devastating economic and cultural impacts on the household concerned, and commonly lead to retaliatory killing of carnivores and other wildlife. Although people are aware that their enclosures are weak, they usually don’t have the resources or the access to materials which would significantly strengthen them.
In order to reduce the impacts on both people and wildlife, the Ruaha Carnivore Project developed an initiative to predator-proof livestock enclosures. The enclosures are fortified with strong diamond-mesh fencing, usually attached to sturdy wooden or metal poles, and although we initially thought that the fact predators could see through the enclosures might be a problem, they have proved over 95% effective at reducing carnivore attacks in enclosures. The household contributes 25% of the cost, and commit to maintaining the enclosure, but are then eligible to receive subsidized veterinary medicines. Meanwhile, the Lion Defenders reinforce bomas using traditional means, in order to provide some temporary protection while people are saving the money to enable them to fortify the boma using wire.
This has been an extremely successful programme in terms of reducing conflict, and we plan to expand it across the study area. Each fortified enclosure, including materials and staff time, costs around US$500, but is invaluable for helping local households secure their livelihoods. If you would like to support us with this initiative, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org