Living with predators: A focus on the issues of humancrocodile conflict within the lower Zambezi valley
Wallace KM., Leslie AJ., Coulson T.
Context Humanwildlife conflict is a global problem and increasing worldwide as people and wildlife compete for limited resources. Conflict between people and crocodiles, especially in Africa, is recognised as a serious problem. The people of the Chiawa Game Management Area are heavily dependent on the Zambezi River for several resources from potable water and irrigating fields to a source of food (subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing). Aims To assess the spatial and temporal scale of humancrocodile conflict (HCC) and identify associated factors, with a view to recommending mitigation measures. Methods A questionnaire survey and Zambia Wildlife Authority data were utilised to estimate the scale of HCC. Key results Between 2000 and 2009, there were 98 crocodile attacks on people, 62.2% were fatal. Most of the attacks occurred while canoe fishing (57.1%) and collecting water (29.6%). Crocodiles were disliked and seen as a 'problem' by the majority of the populace. Even though crocodiles are a charismatic mega-fauna species, being employed within the tourism industry had only a minor positive effect on people's attitudes. The area is an important location for crocodile egg and adult harvesting, although the local population gains no financial benefit. An increase in the number of boreholes in the villages was suggested by the local people as the primary mitigation measure, as well as the removal of crocodiles by various means. Conclusions Although people displayed an understanding of the risks of crocodile attack, very few actually employed mitigation techniques or utilised protective barriers when at the river. Increased water-access points (and their maintenance) in the villages would reduce people's dependency on the river. The negative attitude towards crocodiles is an issue that has to be addressed to allow successful implementation of long-term conservation strategies. Implications Understanding local people's attitudes towards wildlife is an important aspect within any conservation management plan.Competition for limited resources by people and wildlife is guaranteed to cause confrontations. The existing mitigation for human crocodile conflict in Zambia is ineffective. The negative attitude towards wildlife needs to be addressed and a suitable response formulated. The most favoured type of mitigation suggested by local people was more boreholes and the removal of crocodiles. Photograph by Kevin Wallace. © CSIRO 2011.