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Understanding the human dimensions of coexistence between carnivores and people: A case study in Namibia

Rust, Niki (2015) Understanding the human dimensions of coexistence between carnivores and people: A case study in Namibia. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:53866)

Language: English
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Many carnivore populations were in decline throughout much of the 20th century, but due to recent conservation policies, their numbers are stabilising or even increasing in

some areas of the world. This, compounded with human population growth, has caused increased livestock depredation by carnivores, which threatens farmer livelihoods, particularly those in developing countries such as Namibia. How to resolve this so-called “conflict” between carnivores and livestock farmers remains challenging, in part because some mitigation strategies have proven somewhat ineffective or unacceptable. By using a case-study approach on the commercial farmlands of northcentral Namibia, I aimed to understand the complexity of the human dimensions affecting coexistence between carnivores and people in an unprotected working landscape. Specifically, my objectives were to 1) develop a participatory decisionmaking exercise to analyse the views of stakeholders on how they would like carnivores to be managed in unprotected lands, 2) understand how the media framed

financial incentives to improve human-carnivore coexistence, and 3) determine if there were any underlying social, economic or political causes of negative human-carnivore

interactions on commercial livestock farms.

To answer objective 1, I developed a new decision-making exercise that combined Q-methodology and the Delphi technique to determine whether a diverse group of stakeholders could agree on how to manage carnivores on commercial farmland. A strong agreement was reached by participants: providing conservation education and training on livestock husbandry were acceptable and effective ways to improve coexistence with carnivores. This new also method highlighted areas of disagreement between stakeholders and showed that there were two different narratives on how carnivores should be managed. This method could be used by policy makers to help with participatory decision-making for resolving other

conservation conflicts.

To answer objective 2, I undertook content analysis of national newspapers to determine how the media framed articles on financial incentives to mitigate this conservation conflict. The most common (30%) financial incentive discussed was compensation - many (61%) of these articles framed compensation positively.

However, upon categorising these articles into those where respondents were enrolled in compensation schemes compared with those who were not, a clear pattern emerged: articles were more likely (89%) to be framed ambivalently or negatively when respondents had experience of this financial incentive compared with respondents that did not. These results can help conservationists plan more effective communication interventions and anticipate issues that can affect the success of mitigation strategies.

To answer objective 3, I undertook eight months of participant observation on livestock farms and interviewed 69 respondents and found that reported livestock depredation was associated with increased instances of poaching of wildlife and stealing of livestock. This association appeared to be partly due to farmer-worker relations: when employees felt happy, respected and were paid a liveable wage, they were incentivised to perform well in their job. This resulted in livestock that were managed more effectively and therefore less likely to be killed by predators. Furthermore, these well-paid employees were not incentivised to steal or poach to supplement their income, which limited the extent of game poaching and livestock theft on the farm. These findings underline the fact that this conservation conflict is extremely complicated, driven by many social, economic and political factors that may not be apparent initially.

In conclusion, this thesis has found that the conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers is a truly wicked problem, affected by a multitude of complex layers.

Only by exploring the entangled web of drivers will we ever begin to create positive, lasting change for both people and predators. Niki Rust © 2015

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Humle, Tatyana
Thesis advisor: MacMillan, Douglas
Thesis advisor: Tzanopoulos, Joseph
Uncontrolled keywords: carnivores, Namibia, human-wildlife conflict, conservation, biodiversity, community-based conservation, predators, Africa, participatory decision-making, social science, delphi, q-methodology, content analysis
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2016 12:00 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 11:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Rust, Niki.

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