Human dimensions of human-lion conflict: A pre- And post-assessment of a lion conservation programme in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Foundation for Environmental Conservation. SummaryHumans are contributing to large carnivore declines around the globe, and conservation interventions should focus on increasing local stakeholder tolerance of carnivores and be informed by both biological and social considerations. In the Okavango Delta (Botswana), we tested new conservation strategies alongside a pre-existing government compensation programme. The new strategies included the construction of predator-proof livestock enclosures, the establishment of an early warning system linked to GPS satellite lion collars, depredation event investigations and educational programmes. We conducted pre- and post-assessments of villagers' livestock management practices, attitudes towards carnivores and conservation, perceptions of human-carnivore coexistence and attitudes towards established conservation programmes. Livestock management levels were low and 50% of farmers lost livestock to carnivores, while 5-10% of owned stock was lost. Respondents had strong negative attitudes towards lions, which kill most depredated livestock. Following new management interventions, tolerance of carnivores significantly increased, although tolerance of lions near villages did not. The number of respondents who believed that coexistence with carnivores was possible significantly increased. Respondents had negative attitudes towards the government-run compensation programme, citing low and late payments, but were supportive of the new management interventions. These efforts show that targeted, intensive management can increase stakeholder tolerance of carnivores.

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