Caracals in a Heterogeneous Landscape: Resolutions for Human-Carnivore Conflicts
AuthorNeils, Aletris Marie
wildlife conflict mitigation
AdvisorKoprowski, John L.
Schwalbe, Cecil R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn regions where carnivores and livestock coexist, conflicts are virtually inevitable. Ecological, economic and social consequences of the interaction between predator and prey exist, especially in places where predators and stock producers share the same land and resources. Throughout southern Africa, caracals are regarded as vermin due to occasional predation on livestock. Goals of this research were to examine specific life history traits that render caracals susceptible to conflict with humans, to understand impacts of human persecution on caracal ecology, and to offer alternative strategies for coexistence that work within the context of caracal natural history. Data were collected from 34 radio-collared and 208 necropsied caracals on working farms throughout Namibia from 2010 to 2016. Relative frequencies of prey items in caracal diet were calculated from analyses of 202 caracal stomachs, 688 kill sites and 250 caracal scats (N=1140 samples). A total of 106 species were recorded in Namibian caracal diet. Mammalian prey made up 83.2% of diet, however, stock comprised only 2.1% of caracal diet despite their abundance throughout the study areas. Regardless of relatively insignificant depredation rates, perception of caracals as livestock killers results in extensive persecution by farmers. Demographic parameters of caracals, including survival and reproduction values, were estimated and used to generate life history schedules and Kaplan-Meier survival curves to determine whether caracal populations on southern Namibian farmlands can withstand high anthropogenic mortality. Life table data revealed an estimated net reproductive rate of 0.891- 1.06. Southern Namibia stock farms likely represent a mosaic of population sinks for caracals where populations rely on immigration from adjacent areas to persist; demography of caracal populations on farmlands is highly skewed towards young male dispersers. Data indicate that caracal populations are projected to decline if extensive persecution pressure continues. The underlying causes of this persecution was investigated, using 561 qualitative interviews from 367 Namibian farmers, to enhance understanding of wildlife conflicts and risk perception from a socio-economic context with the goal of identifying management actions to reduce the number of predators killed by people. Respondents indicated that drivers of conflict include drought, resource availability, and market-driven demands for certain breeds of sheep whose husbandry practices lead to increased conflicts with predators. Results suggest farming systems exist in Namibia where predator eradication is the primary strategy over livestock management. Consequences of this extensive conflict are not sustainable for stock producers or caracals in the long-term. Conclusions of this project have implications for carnivore conflicts in parallel milieus worldwide.
Degree ProgramGraduate College