Guard Dogs Mitigating Human And Wildlife Conflict Leading To Flourishing Of Endangered Species
The African population has grown significantly over the last hundreds of years, and according to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa is expected to record the highest population growth between now and the year 2050, with the sub-Saharan Africa population growing more than double from the current 1.1 billion people to 2.4 billion people.
This will mean that human settlement will keep encroaching into wildlife reserved land and with it, humans will either be killing the wild animals or relocating them to environment they are not naturally endowed to thrive in. As of now, we can see farmers going to graze their livestock next to game reserves and wild life protected areas. During the drought season, we can find that wild animals leave their designated reserves and go to human settlement to hunt the easy prey that is the human livestock and possibly humans themselves. This has brought up an unprecedented level of human and wildlife conflict, where in most cases , humans end up killing many wild animals in a bid to secure their own lives and their livestock which is also their source of livelihood.
This trend has lead to an alarming reduction of wild animals especially the predatory cats like cheetah, leopards, jackals among other large carnivorous cats. Leading to the population of these big cats reducing to a level where they are classified as threatened species. Putting this in mind, and the expected increase in population, we can expect more reduction in the population of the wild cats as human encroach into their natural habitats seeking land for grazing, farming and establishing settlements.
This does not necessarily have to be true, if a research conducted in South Africa is anything to go by. Humans and wild cats can co-exist together, according to a research done by the University of Kent, that showed guard dogs could play a pivotal role in mitigating this co-existence. The research found that guard dogs can actually reduce the human and wildlife conflict significantly. The guard dogs minimize the attacks by large carnivores like leopards and cheetahs on the human livestock, thereby not warranting the human to kill the wild cats. This research was published in a paper by Wildlife Society Bulletin, and was entitled, “Perceived Efficacy of Livestock-Guarding Dogs in South Africa: Implications for Cheetah Conservation”.
According to the findings of researchers from the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservations, on the role guard dogs have in protecting livestock from being preyed upon by large wild carnivores on the South African farm lands that are next to wildlife habitats. The researchers found out that the presence of guard dogs in the midst of the grazing livestock reduced livestock losses to wild carnivore by up to 91%. Translating to each individual farmer saving more than $3,000 annually from livestock saved from attacks from wild carnivores.
The team also found out that farmers were more tolerant to wild carnivore roaming their farm lands when they know they have guard dogs in the midst of their livestock. These tolerance to the predators by farmers meant that less farmers were going out to hunt and kill the predators in a bid to secure their interest hence the population of such predators have started to increase. This means that these wild cats population will increase over time, and perhaps will no longer be listed under threatened species category, leading to a win-win situation for the wild animals and the farmers: it almost reduces losses of livestock to the predators to nil and saving the farmers from loss of money. Also the tolerance by the farmers to the predators presence in their surrounding, has seen the population of the predators increases significantly. Leading to a situation where man is living in harmony with nature, which is quite rare in the modern world of industrialization, urbanization and pollution.