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White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 142510056

Extent and socio-ecological correlates of illegal poisoning in Namibia - Implications for targeted conservation actions for the White-backed vulture

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 142510056) - White-backed Vulture - Awarded $10,000 on January 27, 2015

The project takes place in Namibia (Southern Africa). In this country, vast areas are managed for commercial livestock and game farming (yellow areas in the figure showing the map). The current project aims at:

1.      Quantifying the extent of poison use by farmers

2.      Understanding the factors underlying the use of poison by farmers

3.      Provide a map showing the hotspots of poison use that can be used to focus targeted conservation efforts.

The human-wildlife conflict in the country has escalated to a point whereby farmers make use of poison to control carnivores in an attempt to reduce livestock and game loss. Unfortunately the use of poison may have detrimental impacts through the whole ecosystem, with scavengers, such as vultures, seemingly the most negatively impacted by the use of poison. Namibia supports important populations of red listed vultures, such as the endangered Lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tratcheliotos) and the critically endangered White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus). However, little is known regarding the extent of poison use by farmers, what factors may trigger its use and where it is most common.

The field data collection, consisting in delivering in person a questionnaire to as many commercial farmers across the country, has been recently completed (see the locations from which a questionnaire has been completed – black dots in the shown map). Over 400 questionnaires have been filled in during fieldwork from September till end of November 2015, providing a large amount of information that was used to answer the 3 questions listed above. The results indicate that, across Namibia's commercial land, about 1 out of 5 farmers use poison as a mean to control predators. Illegal use of poison is most prevalent in the southern part of the country, where small stock farmers (i.e. sheep and goat farmers) are living. Results also indicate that farmers who own large numbers of small stock over large properties, and those who suffered livestock losses due to carnivores are most likely to use poison. We also report an overall positive perception of farmers towards vultures, which may indicate a potential for implementing win-win solutions in collaboration with the farming community.

More details on this research can be found in the published scientific papers available here and here [If you can't access the paper, please send a request to the main author Andrea Santangeli]


See also here for some media coverage of the project at the Univeristy of Helsinki.

We also produced a short clip to popularise the main results of the project to the public. The clip is available here.

Project documents