For centuries, livestock losses to large predators in Africa has spurred conflict with farmers and great losses to lion, cheetah and wild dog populations in particular. It is something high on the agendas of conservationists here in Africa and we tend to forget that human-predator conflict is not just an African story.
On 22 January, US Fish and Wildlife declared the Eastern Cougar to be officially extinct. On this sad day, conservationists are hoping new legislation in the western US will protect other declining big cats. Also in January 2018, California issued a policy change that rejects Southern Californian farmers’ rights to kill mountain lions that prey upon livestock or pets. Surely that policy changed decades ago? But surprisingly, despite the already shrinking and genetically strangled population of mountain lions in this area, 200 permits were being issued every year that allowed farmers to automatically shoot and kill lions that threatened their livestock. Farmers can still apply for a permit after trying less lethal removal tactics, but many farmers are outraged about losing their right to depredate their farms at will. A familiar scenario in wilderness areas of Africa.
While conservationists hope farmers will invest in less lethal tools for protecting livestock from large carnivores, it will continue to be a highly contentious issue around the world. In Africa there is often less regulating ability than other parts of the world and more serious socio-economic backdrops. Because of this complexity, unique and cutting edge solutions are emerging out of Africa that perhaps Californian farmers and others can learn from, including scent boundaries and painting eyes on the back of livestock!
For more information see:
Associated Press. Officials cancel automatic death sentence for mountain lions that kill pets, livestock. Los Angeles Times. January 04, 2018.