Namibia is one of the few African countries which contain 6 species of large carnivore (lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, spotted hyena and brown hyena) free-ranging outside formally protected areas; for example more than 90% of Namibia’s cheetah population lives on commercial farmland.
With an estimated 3,500 commercial farm properties in the country, conflict between human activities and wildlife is inevitable – usually resulting in the lethal control of large carnivores as a preventative measure against, or in retaliation for, livestock depredation.
N/a’an ku sê strives to combat this, often indiscriminate, persecution by offering advice and assistance to Namibian landowners who experience conflict with large carnivores. By researching and implementing various traditional, and novel, livestock protection and conflict mitigation techniques (such as the use of herders, livestock guardian animals e.g. dogs or donkeys, traditional thorn kraals and bio-deterrents e.g. lion scat at cheetah marking trees) we hope to increase tolerance levels, and thus reduce persecution levels, of carnivores on Namibia’;s farmland through a better understanding, and knowledge sharing, of their ecology and place in the environment.
To this end N/a’an ku sê team members regularly attend, upon invitation, regional farmers union meetings to discuss their concerns openly and objectively giving us the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience to the farming community on a greater scale than has previously been possible. It also allows us to gather invaluable data on the levels of conflict, whether perceived or actual, being experienced by Namibian farmers e.g. numbers of livestock lost, numbers of carnivores seen and numbers of carnivores shot or trapped.
When predators suspected of livestock depredation are caught in live-capture cages by farmers our Rapid Response Unit is called into action to deal with the situation (see Rapid Response section for further details).
By engaging farmers in this way we have built up a spirit of trust and cooperation where before there was animosity. In this way we aim to provide a brighter future for Namibia’s endangered and vulnerable carnivore species.
Conservation is after all a “numbers” game: every individual carnivore that we manage to save from persecution adds to the breeding population and gives us hope for a stable predator guild for future generations to enjoy.