As part of our work with the North-West Lion Working Group, we spent the past week in the Anabeb Conservancy interviewing farmers and speaking to people about the difficulties they are having with carnivores, in particular lions. (See posts below for further details.) A preliminary analysis of the surveys indicates that farmers in Anabeb have struggled during the recent drought, and that difficulties with predators are exacerbating these problems. On average, farmers in Anabeb report losing between 85-93% of their cattle, 72-74% of their sheep, and 50% of their goats since the beginning of the drought. While direct effects of drought make up the majority of livestock losses, Anabeb farmers report that predators have been responsible for 20% of dead cattle, 29% of dead sheep, and 21% of dead goats. Finally, it was reported that lions alone have accounted for 13% of dead cattle, <1% of dead sheep, and 2% of dead goats. The reported losses in dollar amounts (US) are an average of $13,000 in cattle, $2,100 in sheep, and $10,000 in goats during the drought.
In a region where 39% of the population lives on less than one US dollar/day this can be a huge blow for entire families. Nevertheless, a vast majority of respondents (85%) indicated it is important that Anabeb continue to have lions. “People living in towns should know about and be able to see lions” said Khowareb resident Julia Kasaona. Many in Anabeb indicated that it was important that their children be able to live in a world with lions. Even in the face of great struggle it appears that community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is alive and well in Anabeb. An encouraging sign.