Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1715–1730 | Cite as

Characteristics and determinants of human-carnivore conflict in South African farmland

  • Michelle Thorn
  • Matthew Green
  • Dawn Scott
  • Kelly Marnewick
Original Paper


Reducing human-carnivore conflict may provide conservation, social and economic benefits, but designing suitable mitigation activities requires information regarding underlying anthropogenic and environmental determinants. To obtain those data, we interviewed game and livestock farmers in Limpopo province, South Africa from March to August 2011. We quantified (1) human-carnivore conflict characteristics; (2) determinants of perceived carnivore predation levels and; (3) determinants of retaliatory persecution of carnivores. Carnivores reportedly killed 1.4 % of total game and domestic livestock holdings and the median annual rate of loss was ZAR 1.23 ha−1, which is generally not sufficient to threaten farming livelihoods or the provincial economy. Farmers reportedly killed 303 carnivores in the year prior to the interview, 44 of which were threatened species. African wild dogs were the least tolerated species, followed by cheetahs, although these species were only blamed for 6 and 3 % of reported kills respectively. The main determinants of human-carnivore conflict were high elevation, mixed purpose farming (i.e., stocking both game and livestock), dense vegetation cover and high perceived financial losses. The results suggest a number of potential conflict-mitigation strategies which include addressing predation problems in areas with a high proportion of vulnerable farms, improving tolerance of carnivores among low-tolerance social groups and correcting misconceptions about the provenance and financial impact of local carnivore populations. This information has already lead to the implementation of several suitably tailored mitigation activities.


Game Livestock Perceptions Persecution Predation Questionnaire interview 



We are grateful to everyone who contributed information during interviews and to Lapalala Wilderness and Welgevonden Private Game Reserve for logistical support. We thank anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. We also thank Land Rover Centurion for sponsoring the project and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Knowsley Safari Park, and the Rufford Small Grants Foundation for providing funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Thorn
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthew Green
    • 2
  • Dawn Scott
    • 3
  • Kelly Marnewick
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Wildlife Management, Hatfield Experimental FarmUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Carnivore Conservation ProgrammeEndangered Wildlife TrustJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Biology DivisionUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK

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