Evaluation of a compensation scheme to bring about pastoralist tolerance of lions
Maclennan SD., Groom RJ., Macdonald DW., Frank LG.
Lions (Panthera leo) are in decline throughout most of their range due to human persecution, largely provoked by depredation on livestock, and there is debate as to the usefulness of financial instruments to mitigate this conflict. Intending to reduce local lion-killing, the Mbirikani Predator Compensation Fund compensates members of Mbirikani Group Ranch for livestock depredation at a flat rate (close to average market value), after the kill has been verified and with penalties imposed for poor husbandry. Despite penalizing claimants, 55% of claims arose because livestock were lost in the bush. Between 1st April 2003 and 31st December 2006, 754 cattle, 80 donkeys and 1844 sheep/goats were killed (2.31% of the total livestock herd each year). Forty-three percent of kills were ascribed to spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta); leopards (Panthera pardus) and cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) were blamed for 37% of cases, lions 7%, jackals (Canis mesomelas) 7% and buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and elephants (Loxodonta africana) together 6%. Significantly more attacks took place during months of lower rainfall but the rate of attacks was not related to the density of livestock on the ranch, or the ratio of wild herbivores to domestic stock. There was no correlation between local market prices and the number of claims per month. Despite compensation, at least one lion per year was killed in 2004, 2005 and 2006. We describe some features of large carnivore depredation in the study area and suggest that regional recovery of the lion population may require compensation on a wider scale. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.