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Understanding the human dimensions of coexistence between carnivores and people: A case study in Namibia

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Abstract and Figures

Many carnivore populations were in decline throughout much of the 20th century, but due to recent conservation policies, their numbers are stabilising or even increasing in some areas of the world. This, compounded with human population growth, has caused increased livestock depredation by carnivores, which threatens farmer livelihoods, particularly those in developing countries such as Namibia. How to resolve this so-called “conflict” between carnivores and livestock farmers remains challenging, in part because some mitigation strategies have proven somewhat ineffective or unacceptable. By using a case-study approach on the commercial farmlands of north-central Namibia, I aimed to understand the complexity of the human dimensions affecting coexistence between carnivores and people in an unprotected working landscape. Specifically, my objectives were to 1) develop a participatory decision-making exercise to analyse the views of stakeholders on how they would like carnivores to be managed in unprotected lands, 2) understand how the media framed financial incentives to improve human-carnivore coexistence, and 3) determine if there were any underlying social, economic or political causes of negative human-carnivore interactions on commercial livestock farms. To answer objective 1, I developed a new decision-making exercise that combined Q-methodology and the Delphi technique to determine whether a diverse group of stakeholders could agree on how to manage carnivores on commercial farmland. A strong agreement was reached by participants: providing conservation education and training on livestock husbandry were acceptable and effective ways to improve coexistence with carnivores. This new method also highlighted areas of disagreement between stakeholders and showed that there were two different narratives on how carnivores should be managed. This method could be used by policy makers to help with participatory decision-making for resolving other conservation conflicts. To answer objective 2, I undertook content analysis of national newspapers to determine how the media framed articles on financial incentives to mitigate this conservation conflict. The most common (30%) financial incentive discussed was compensation - many (61%) of these articles framed compensation positively. However, upon categorising these articles into those where respondents were enrolled in compensation schemes compared with those who were not, a clear pattern emerged: articles were more likely (89%) to be framed ambivalently or negatively when respondents had experience of this financial incentive compared with respondents that did not. These results can help conservationists plan more effective communication interventions and anticipate issues that can affect the success of mitigation strategies. To answer objective 3, I undertook eight months of participant observation on livestock farms and interviewed 69 respondents and found that reported livestock depredation was associated with increased instances of poaching of wildlife and stealing of livestock. This association appeared to be partly due to farmer-worker relations: when employees felt happy, respected and were paid a liveable wage, they were incentivised to perform well in their job. This resulted in livestock that were managed more effectively and therefore less likely to be killed by predators. Furthermore, these well-paid employees were not incentivised to steal or poach to supplement their income, which limited the extent of game poaching and livestock theft on the farm. These findings underline the fact that this conservation conflict is extremely complicated, driven by many social, economic and political factors that may not be apparent initially. In conclusion, this thesis has found that the conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers is a truly wicked problem, affected by a multitude of complex layers. Only by exploring the entangled web of drivers will we ever begin to create positive, lasting change for both people and predators.
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Photos © Niki Rust 2011-2015
Understanding the human dimensions of
coexistence between carnivores and people:
A case study in Namibia
Niki Rust | 2015
Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury
Thesis submitted for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Biodiversity Management
Word count: 55,923
Many carnivore populations were in decline throughout much of the 20th century, but
due to recent conservation policies, their numbers are stabilising or even increasing in
some areas of the world. This, compounded with human population growth, has
caused increased livestock depredation by carnivores, which threatens farmer
livelihoods, particularly those in developing countries such as Namibia. How to resolve
this so-called “conflict” between carnivores and livestock farmers remains challenging,
in part because some mitigation strategies have proven somewhat ineffective or
unacceptable. By using a case-study approach on the commercial farmlands of north-
central Namibia, I aimed to understand the complexity of the human dimensions
affecting coexistence between carnivores and people in an unprotected working
landscape. Specifically, my objectives were to 1) develop a participatory decision-
making exercise to analyse the views of stakeholders on how they would like
carnivores to be managed in unprotected lands, 2) understand how the media framed
financial incentives to improve human-carnivore coexistence, and 3) determine if there
were any underlying social, economic or political causes of negative human-carnivore
interactions on commercial livestock farms.
To answer objective 1, I developed a new decision-making exercise that
combined Q-methodology and the Delphi technique to determine whether a diverse
group of stakeholders could agree on how to manage carnivores on commercial
farmland. A strong agreement was reached by participants: providing conservation
education and training on livestock husbandry were acceptable and effective ways to
improve coexistence with carnivores. This new also method highlighted areas of
disagreement between stakeholders and showed that there were two different
narratives on how carnivores should be managed. This method could be used by
policy makers to help with participatory decision-making for resolving other
conservation conflicts.
To answer objective 2, I undertook content analysis of national newspapers to
determine how the media framed articles on financial incentives to mitigate this
conservation conflict. The most common (30%) financial incentive discussed was
compensation - many (61%) of these articles framed compensation positively.
Niki Rust © 2015
However, upon categorising these articles into those where respondents were enrolled
in compensation schemes compared with those who were not, a clear pattern
emerged: articles were more likely (89%) to be framed ambivalently or negatively
when respondents had experience of this financial incentive compared with
respondents that did not. These results can help conservationists plan more effective
communication interventions and anticipate issues that can affect the success of
mitigation strategies.
To answer objective 3, I undertook eight months of participant observation on
livestock farms and interviewed 69 respondents and found that reported livestock
depredation was associated with increased instances of poaching of wildlife and
stealing of livestock. This association appeared to be partly due to farmer-worker
relations: when employees felt happy, respected and were paid a liveable wage, they
were incentivised to perform well in their job. This resulted in livestock that were
managed more effectively and therefore less likely to be killed by predators.
Furthermore, these well-paid employees were not incentivised to steal or poach to
supplement their income, which limited the extent of game poaching and livestock
theft on the farm. These findings underline the fact that this conservation conflict is
extremely complicated, driven by many social, economic and political factors that may
not be apparent initially.
In conclusion, this thesis has found that the conflict between carnivores and
livestock farmers is a truly wicked problem, affected by a multitude of complex layers.
Only by exploring the entangled web of drivers will we ever begin to create positive,
lasting change for both people and predators.
Published PhD thesis chapters
CHAPTER 2: Methodology has been sent in a revised format as an accepted chapter in
“The Biology and Conservation of Cheetahs”, a book edited by Laurie Marker, Anne
Schmidt-Küntzel and Lorraine Boast. This chapter is entitled “Social science methods
to study human-cheetah coexistence” and is due for publication in 2016 by Academic
CHAPTER 3: Can stakeholders agree on how to reduce human-carnivore conflict on
Namibian livestock farms? This manuscript was accepted for publication by Oryx on
22 September 2015.
CHAPTER 4: Media framing of financial mechanisms for resolving human-predator
conflict in Namibia was published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife on 20
July 2015; 20(5) 440-453.
CHAPTER 5: Addressing wicked problems in conservation was sent for peer review to
the journal Society & Natural Resources on 28 May 2015 and received corrections on 4
September 2015, which have since been sent back in revised format on 9 September
CHAPTER 6: Carnivores, colonisation and control was sent in modified form for peer
review to the journal Human Ecology on 1 December 2015.
This PhD would not have been possible without the fantastic support of
Cheetah Conservation Fund, and in particular Laurie Marker, Anne Schmidtz-Kuentzel,
Johan Britz and Heike Stackman. Their guidance during and prior to my PhD helped me
firstly to obtain funding and then to plan and conduct my fieldwork in Namibia.
Special thanks also goes to all the dedicated CCF staff, interns and volunteers.
Many other people assisted me during my Namibian fieldwork, not least Hans
and Bianca Sohrada at Farm Ouhave. It was here that I lived during my fieldwork,
collecting data and, through their generosity, allowed me to work with them (and
sometimes even bake cookies in their kitchen – cheers!). Their welcoming and non-
judgemental attitude made me feel immediately at home and I will forever remember
their hospitality, generosity and beautiful farm. Hans in particular saved my foot from
possible gangrenous amputation after I stepped onto a hellishly large Acacia thorn that
got wedged into my bone. His folklore knowledge of field medicine managed to
extract the thorn through the wonders of some unknown black tar substance – thanks,
Hans! Amy the dog was a particularly memorable companion during my stay at
Ouhave – she was a good friend and playmate during the long and sometimes boring
days of data entry, and was always there to protect me from warthogs, snakes and
giant monitor lizards.
Nils Odendaal of NamibRand Nature Reserve deserves a big hug for his help
with finding a trusty and reliable truck for my fieldwork. I miss that Hilux and don’t
think I will ever own such a lovely vehicle for the rest of my life! Panthera deserve a
mention here as it was through their Kaplan Graduate Award scheme that funded my
field car. Thanks to their tireless fundraising efforts, Panthera have helped support
dozens of PhD students like me to conduct novel and crucial work on the world’s
threatened wild cat species.
Other individuals and organisations that deserve a mention are (in no particular
order): Ministry of Environment and Tourism; Ministry of Agriculture, Water and
Forestry; AfriCat & Okonjima; Namibia Scientific Society; MeatCo; Namibia Agricultural
Union; Osire & Waterberg Farmers Association; Kalkfeld Farmers Association; NAPHA;
NAMPLACE; Ongava Lodge; Harry & Sonja Schneider-Waterberg; Gunther Roeber; Rolf
Ritter; Steve Redpath; Meredith Gore; Guillaume Chapron; Amy Dickman; Alfons
Mosimane; all the people from Farm Springbokvlei; and the many kind people who
allowed me to interview them, visit their farm and/or bug them endlessly to fill out my
Avi, Amber and Tony from SAC, cheers to you all for opening my eyes to the
world of anthropology and always making me become more reflexive about my
research. Thanks to everyone at DICE, particularly during my Masters, for organising
those infamous Friday Pub Nights where we geeked out all night long about the many
threats to biodiversity.
I am indebted to James Fowler for staying by me through thick and thin
(sometimes remotely via the wonders/dread of Skype) along this 3-year journey and
allowing me to drag him around the world to Namibia, the US, Scotland and various
other places. You kept me entertained whilst I was stuck in the middle of the bush
with all those letters, postcards, drawings and funny anecdotes. Your personal support
through this project has helped to motivate me and keep me on track.
Lastly, thanks to my academic supervisors for urging me to become an
independent researcher from early on in this PhD.
And to whoever else I have forgotten, I apologise; nothing personal!
This work was supported by the Economic & Social Research Council [ESRC
grant number 12906529]; Panthera Kaplan Graduate Award; and the Okonjima Nature
Reserve/AfriCat Foundation.
Amy the warthog-hunter (right) and
new puppy Basta (middle) at Farm
Ouhave, Namibia, December 2013
Table of contents
CHAPTER 1. Introduction............................................................................................. 13
1.1 Achieving Coexistence with Carnivores ......................................................... 13
1.2 The Human Dimensions of Global Carnivore Conservation ........................... 15
1.2.1 Namibia’s Political History ..................................................................... 18
1.3 Conserving Carnivores in Namibia ................................................................. 24
1.4 Study Area .................................................................................................... 26
1.5 Thesis Objectives .......................................................................................... 27
CHAPTER 2. Methodology .......................................................................................... 30
Abstract .................................................................................................................. 30
2.1 Introduction .................................................................................................. 30
2.2 Theoretical Perspectives ............................................................................... 31
2.3 Which Method(s) to Use? ............................................................................. 32
2.3.1 When Little is Known about a Topic or When Conventional Thinking is
Challenged .......................................................................................................... 32
2.3.2 When Research Questions are Targeted and Background Information has
been Gathered .................................................................................................... 40
2.3.3 When Planning Interventions in a Participatory Manner ........................ 42
2.3.4 A Combined Approach? ......................................................................... 49
2.4 Chosen methods used in this thesis .............................................................. 50
2.5 Ethics ............................................................................................................ 51
CHAPTER 3. Can stakeholders agree on how to reduce human-carnivore conflict on
Namibian livestock farms? .......................................................................................... 53
3.1 Abstract ........................................................................................................ 53
3.2 Introduction .................................................................................................. 53
3.3 Methods ....................................................................................................... 55
3.3.1 The Decision-Making Technique ............................................................ 55
3.3.2 Q-Methodology Statement Collection.................................................... 57
3.3.3 Sampling ................................................................................................ 58
3.3.4 Q-Sort .................................................................................................... 58
3.3.5 Delphi .................................................................................................... 59
3.3.6 Analyses ................................................................................................ 59
3.4 Results .......................................................................................................... 60
3.4.1 Overview .................................................................................................... 60
3.4.2 Round 1 ...................................................................................................... 61
3.4.3 Round 2 ...................................................................................................... 62
3.4.4 Round 3 ...................................................................................................... 63
3.4.5 Participants’ reasoning behind their answers ............................................. 63
3.5 Discussion ..................................................................................................... 67
CHAPTER 4. Media Framing of Financial Mechanisms for Improving Human-Carnivore
Coexistence in Namibia ............................................................................................... 73
4.1 Abstract ........................................................................................................ 73
4.2 Introduction .................................................................................................. 73
4.2.1 Conceptual Framework and Objectives .................................................. 75
4.2.2 Aim and objectives ................................................................................ 77
4.3 Methods ....................................................................................................... 77
4.3.1 Sampling Frame ..................................................................................... 77
4.3.2 Coding Protocol ..................................................................................... 78
4.3.3 Valence of Frame ................................................................................... 79
4.3.4 Data Analysis ......................................................................................... 79
4.4 Results .......................................................................................................... 80
4.4.1 Types of Financial Incentives.................................................................. 80
4.4.2 Stakeholder Groups ............................................................................... 80
4.4.3 Framing of Incentives ................................................................................. 80
4.5 Discussion ..................................................................................................... 83
CHAPTER 5. Social, economic & political drivers affecting human-carnivore coexistence
in Namibia .................................................................................................................. 89
5.1 Abstract ........................................................................................................ 89
5.2 Introduction .................................................................................................. 89
5.3 Methods ....................................................................................................... 92
5.3.1 Study area ............................................................................................. 92
5.3.2 Interviews .............................................................................................. 93
5.3.3 Participant Observation ......................................................................... 95
5.3.4 Sampling for interviews ......................................................................... 95
5.3.5 Skills Audit ............................................................................................. 96
5.3.6 Analysis ................................................................................................. 96
5.4 Results .......................................................................................................... 98
5.4.1 Macro socio-economic problems ........................................................... 99
5.4.2 Micro socio-economic problems ............................................................ 99
5.4.3 Livestock depredation.......................................................................... 104
5.4.4 Skills Audit ........................................................................................... 105
5.5 Discussion ................................................................................................... 107
CHAPTER 6. Discussion .............................................................................................. 111
6.1. Introduction ................................................................................................ 111
6.2 Summary of results ..................................................................................... 112
6.3 Wider implications ...................................................................................... 114
6.3.1 Carnivore conservation is about people ............................................... 114
6.3.2 Is participation the holy grail of conservation interventions? ............... 116
6.3.3 Economic incentives can help conservation but are not a silver bullet . 119
6.3.4 Socio-psychological theory .................................................................. 122
6.4 Policy & management implications ............................................................. 125
6.5 Directions for future research ..................................................................... 129
6.6 Limitations .................................................................................................. 131
6.7 Conclusion .................................................................................................. 133
CHAPTER 7. References ............................................................................................. 135
Appendix A ............................................................................................................... 164
List of keywords used in newspaper search engines for Chapter 4 ........................ 164
Appendix B................................................................................................................ 165
Interview guide for Chapter 5 ............................................................................... 165
Appendix C................................................................................................................ 167
Skills audit for Chapter 5 ....................................................................................... 167
List of Figures
Figure 1. Map of Namibia (main roads in red, rivers in blue) ………………..…….…….……….18
Figure 2. Map of Namibia showing study site in the north-central region….27
Figure 3. The three most and least popular consensus statements between Delphi
rounds 1-3 with corresponding percentage of participants who strongly agreed to each
Figure 4. Social, political and economic drivers of human-wildlife conflict on
commercial farms in Namibia…………………………………………………………………….………..…..100
List of Tables
Table 1. Q sort statements during Delphi rounds, with corresponding z-scores…..…..65
Table 2. Financial mechanisms used in Namibia to mitigate human-carnivore
Table 3. Frequency and percentage (in brackets) of carnivore conservation financial
incentive types reported in Namibian newspapers………………………………………..…………..81
Table 4. Frequency (percentage in brackets) of different author groups quoted in
Namibian newspaper articles on financial mechanisms to mitigate human-carnivore
conflict ………………………………………………………………..………………………………………….……..…81
Table 5. Frequency (percentage in brackets) of valence of financial mechanisms
reported in Namibian newspapers for mitigating carnivore………………………………….……82
Table 6. Main themes that emerged from the data on the human dimensions that
affected human-wildlife conflict on farms, with supporting quotes from respondents
who reported either more or less poaching, theft and depredation..…………………….…101
Table 7. Conditions experienced by farm workers on commercial livestock farms in
Namibia in relation to how this affects reported poaching, theft and depredation…106
The future of biodiversity is often portrayed as bleak and, at times, beyond salvageable
(Ceballos & Ehrlich, 2002; Ceballos, García, & Ehrlich, 2010; Wake & Vredenburg,
2008). It has been reported that a quarter of the world’s mammal species are
threatened with extinction (Hilton-Taylor et al., 2009) and the planet’s population of
vertebrate species have dropped by half in the last four decades (WWF, 2014). An
increasing number of scientists believe that we are not only living through the sixth
mass extinction (Barnosky et al., 2011), but that our actions are the primary
drivers (Ceballos et al., 2015; Dirzo et al., 2014).
Carnivores are no exception to this widespread loss in biodiversity (Macdonald
& Loveridge, 2010; Ripple et al., 2014). Globally, carnivore populations are in decline
(Di Marco et al., 2014) and, due to their biological traits, are especially prone to
extinction (Cardillo et al., 2004; Purvis, Gittleman, Cowlishaw, & Mace, 2000).
However, because of recent conservation policies and changes in land use, some
carnivore species are recolonising areas where they had previously experienced
extirpations and/or population reductions (Chapron et al., 2014; Eberhardt & Breiwick,
2010; LaRue et al., 2012). This restoration is causing renewed problems (sometimes
called “human-wildlife conflict”), in part due to both the real and perceived threats
that carnivores place on human property and wild game1 (Karanth, 2002; Mech, 1998;
Treves et al., 2002).
There are further challenges with conserving carnivores. Because small
protected areas are unlikely to sustain carnivore species in the long term (Carroll,
Noss, Paquet, & Schumaker, 2004; Rosie Woodroffe & Ginsberg, 1998) and because
some carnivore species are more abundant outside protected areas (Chapron et al.,
2014; Marker, 2002; Nowell & Jackson, 1996), it can be difficult to create coexistence
between carnivores and humans in unprotected areas (Ray, Hunter, & Zigouris, 2005).
1 The use of the word “game” here refers to wild animal species that are typically hunted by humans for
Developing this coexistence remains largely unresolved - particularly with ever-
increasing human populations and the concurrent demands on land use (Woodroffe,
Historically, a plethora of methods have been employed to mitigate the
property damage caused by carnivores, ranging from non-lethal to lethal
approaches (reviewed in Shivik, 2006). In recent decades, some financial incentive
schemes have led to positive results for both people and carnivores (Mishra, Allen,
Carthy, et al., 2003; Zabel & Holm-Muller, 2008) - although their use has been met with
some criticism (Dickman, Macdonald, & Macdonald, 2011; Hazzah et al., 2014). What
has become clear is that there is no “silver bullet” to fixing this problem and rather
each conservation situation requires a unique approach tailored to meet the context-
specific socio-ecological conditions (Hoare, 2015).
An additional complication hindering coexistence between humans and
carnivores is that the underlying drivers of the conflict are often not adequately
addressed (Clark, Rutherford, & Mattson, 2014; Madden & McQuinn, 2014). A
possible reason for this could be that carnivore conservation represents a ‘wicked
problem’ (Rastogi, Hickey, Badola, & Hussain, 2012), where there are ambiguities over
causes and effects, differing values and complex social disagreements, compounded by
a variety of management options and goals with no clear path to achieve broad
success (Leong, Decker, & Lauber, 2012). Wicked problems by their very nature are
hard to solve due to this complex web of factors involved in the phenomenon (Rittel &
Webber, 1973).
Researching into these wicked problems therefore requires skills from the
social sciences (Thirgood & Redpath, 2008; White et al., 2009) because humans are
both the reason for and therefore the solution to almost all conservation challenges.
Social scientists are also needed to enhance the involvement of local communities that
live alongside wildlife to cooperatively manage natural resources. However,
conservationists are becoming increasingly aware of the need for, but current lack of,
social scientists when planning and undertaking conservation projects (Bruskotter &
Shelby, 2010; Chan et al., 2007; Dickman, 2010). This research therefore used social-
science techniques aimed to understand how to improve coexistence between
carnivores and people on Namibian farmland from the human dimensions angle.
Living with carnivores outside of protected areas can be challenging because of the
damage they can cause to livestock, game and human life (Rosie Woodroffe, Thirgood,
& Rabinowitz, 2005). Damage by carnivores can lead property owners to retaliate and
kill carnivores; this so-called “conflict” poses one of the greatest threats to carnivores
globally (Ray et al., 2005). One solution to this problem is to create mitigation
schemes that reduce the real and perceived threat that carnivores place on property
and lives.
Despite some improvements in both carnivore populations and human
tolerance towards carnivores, there are often problems associated with some of these
mitigation schemes. One of the ways that a scheme’s success is affected is the degree
of stakeholder participation in the management process (Sandström, Pellikka,
Ratamäki, & Sande, 2009). Participation by local communities in wildlife management
has been increasing in recent decades after it was noted that top-down regulations
have often been met with fierce opposition by local communities because these
communities felt that their views were not taken into consideration (Voinov & Gaddis,
2008). Lack of local participation can create or exacerbate tensions between the
different stakeholders because of polarised views over values and mitigation
strategies, which can then forge additional problems in future wildlife management
(Thirgood & Redpath, 2008). Such human conflict can then increase negative attitudes
and behaviours towards the species that conservation is aimed at because these
tensions between individuals over management options can be redirected at wildlife
(Goldman, Roque de Pinho, & Perry, 2013).
It is therefore important not only to cooperate with the communities that share
land with wildlife both before and during management interventions, but also to
include these people in the management process (Hill, 2015). This will often foster
more amicable relations between stakeholders and allow for more collaborative rather
than deconstructive negotiations; collaborative negotiations in turn can lead to more
socially accepted carnivore management plans (Clark, Rutherford, & Casey, 2005;
Jackson & Wangchuk, 2004; Kittinger, Bambico, Watson, & Glazier, 2012). Thus
participation is key for: enhancing carnivore conservation outcomes (Rabinowitz,
2005), increasing legitimacy and local acceptance of interventions (Pellikka &
Sandström, 2011), providing accurate problem definitions (Edwards & Gibeau, 2013),
increasing equality between stakeholders (Jackson & Wangchuk, 2004), improving self-
reliance (Jackson & Wangchuk, 2004), enhancing positive attitudes towards
conservation (Swenson & Andrén, 2005) and creating a positive dialogue between
opposing stakeholders (Redpath et al., 2004).
Along with participation in carnivore management, understanding the human
dimensions driving conflict is now also increasingly being seen to be instrumental to
creating effective carnivore conservation (Baruch-Mordo, Breck, Wilson, & Broderick,
2009; Manfredo & Dayer, 2004; Nie, 2001). The human dimensions of wildlife can be
thought of as the areas that relate to attitudes, behaviour, beliefs, values, social,
economic, historical and political factors affecting a particular conservation problem
(Gigliotti & Decker, 1992). However, much of the focus of recent published scientific
articles on the human dimensions of carnivore management have used predominantly
quantitative methods (usually questionnaires and/or structured equation modelling) to
research the social aspects of this problem (Drury, Homewood, & Randall, 2011),
leaving qualitative methods ignored for the most part2. This lack of published
qualitative research may be due to conservationists often initially being trained in the
natural rather than social sciences, thereby possibly feeling more familiar with
quantitative methods (Lichtenfeld, 2005; Torkar, Zimmermann, & Willebrand, 2011).
Quantitative methods that aim to study human-wildlife interaction are important
(Browne-Nuñez & Jonker, 2008) as they can numerically estimate and extrapolate
relationships between factors such as livestock depredation, financial losses due to
carnivores and numbers of carnivores killed. Such methods do not, however, tend to
be able to fully explain the complex phenomena surrounding the ‘how’s and ‘why’s of
human behaviour, particularly those related to culture (Skogen, 2009). Qualitative
methods can therefore play a significant role in unravelling the underlying drivers of
why conflict has not been mitigated. Qualitative methods are especially useful in
uncovering unexpected results that can help to paint rich picture of why and how
2 One notable researcher who is an exception to this rule is Ketil Skogen and colleagues, who have
published quite extensive qualitative studies on this topic in Scandinavia (e.g. Skogen & Krange, 2003;
Skogen, Mauz, & Krange, 2008; Skogen, 2009, 2010). However, limited in-depth qualitative work has
been conducted outside of this geographic area.
people think and act the way they do towards carnivores (Inskip, Fahad, Tully, Roberts,
& MacMillan, 2014).
This research used a case-study approach focusing on carnivore conservation in
Namibia (Fig. 1), a semi-arid country in southern Africa with one of the lowest human
population densities in the world (World Bank, 2009). It is also the driest nation in sub-
Saharan Africa (MEA, 2005), which has led to an agricultural economy based
predominantly on livestock farming rather than crop production. Indeed, less than 5%
of the country receives sufficient rainfall for arable farming (World Bank, 2006) in
contrast to over 70% of the land being used for livestock farming; meat therefore
totals 90% of all agricultural exports (World Bank, 2007). Agriculture forms an
important part of the Namibian economy as, although it only produces 11% of the
Gross Domestic Product (World Bank, 2009), roughly 70% of the country’s residents
rely on it directly or indirectly for their livelihoods (World Bank, 2007).
The country has two main strategies for raising livestock: commercial and
communal. The former tends to be oriented towards production for national and
international markets, and is practised predominantly by the European-descendant
minorities on privately-owned land, whereas the latter tends to be in the form of
subsistence pastoralism practised by black African majority on land owned by the
government (Lange, Barnes, & Motinga, 1997). The commercial sector dominates the
market: between 2000-2007, it contributed 80-99% of the livestock output, despite
owning only 30-40% of the nation’s cattle (Mulunga & Diergaardt, 2009). This is in part
because the communal sector raises livestock in a different manner to the commercial
sector, using it as a form of savings bank rather than a profit-making venture (Lange et
al., 1997). This difference also reflects the lack of capacity for communal farmers to
access the market due to educational, managerial, political, economic and
geographical barriers (Lange et al., 1997).
Figure 1. Map of Namibia (main roads in red, rivers in blue)
1.2.1 Namibia’s Political History
Understanding the historical context in which a conservation challenge lies is crucially
important because it can explain some of the intangible driving forces influencing the
situation (Madden & McQuinn, 2014; Rangarajan, 2003). The conservation of grey
wolves Canis lupus in the United States, for example, has been heavily affected by
socio-economic events that have taken place in the past, including the perceived
increasing influence of government policies on livestock ranchers, coupled with the
declining profitability of the agricultural sector (Robinson, 2005). Wolves have become
a symbol of the differences in values between groups of people (Ring, 2011); a
thorough appreciation of a conservation problem from a socio-historical perspective is
therefore needed firstly to understand this conflict and secondly to mitigate it
(Lescureux & Linnell, 2010; Young, Ma, Laudati, & Berger, 2015). Thus I shall briefly
describe the history of Namibia from the pre-colonial era to present day. Pre-colonial History
The first inhabitants of Namibia were the San bushmen, who arrived into the country
approximately 27,000-30,000 years ago (Suzman, 2002). This group of hunter-
gatherers survived exclusively off the land, migrating with the changing seasons. It
was not until the second millennium that the next human migration took place, the
Bantu. This immigration formed the Ovambo and Kavango ethic groups, who were
crop growers, cattle farmers and fishermen (Salokoski, 2006). Around the same time
as the Bantu immigration, the Nama/Damara peoples arrived into Namibia from the
south. These were semi-nomadic small stock pastoralists descended from the hunter-
gatherer Khoikhoi of South Africa. The Hereros were the next ethnic group to arrive
into the country, who also were of Bantu origin from east Africa. They entered the
north of Namibia around 1550 and then moved more centrally. A branch of the
Hereros, the Himbas, settled in north-west Namibia; both groups were fiercely proud
cattle owners. By 1880, the last African migration took place: the Oorlams and Basters
of South Africa, the former being of the Khoi lineage and the latter being descendants
of Cape Dutch and black Africans (Botha, 2005). This marked the final African
migration into Namibia prior to European colonisation. Colonisation
By the mid-1800s, it was part of South Africa (then called the Cape Colony) that first
contemplated colonising Namibia, but this did not come into fruition until the
following century. It was not until the 1880s that the first successful European
colonisers, the Germans, officially occupied the country; by 1884, Namibia had been
proclaimed under German rule and was renamed “German South-West Africa”. It was
during this time that the Caprivi strip - the ribbon of land to the north-east of the
country inhabited by the Lozis - was added to the country (Kangumuu, 2011). Minerals
for exporting internationally and land for cattle grazing were the main resources that
the colonisers wanted to exploit in the territory3.
3 Along with the indigenous human resources
As with elsewhere in Africa, the colonisation was not well accepted by many of
the indigenous peoples. The Owambos to the north, however, had sufficient
populations and power to exert control over their land and were therefore able to
shield their territory from colonisation. The Nama and Hereros were not so fortunate;
the European settlers took both their land and their cattle. In retaliation, the black
Africans rebelled, which culminated in the German-Herero war of 1904, where
approximately 60,000 Hereros and 10,000 Namas were killed (totalling roughly 80% of
their populations) (Schaller, 2011). By 1907, the Germans had confiscated all cattle
from the Hereros and forced them into labour concentration camps to develop their
settler colony (Madley, 2005). At this stage, there was a growing philosophical outlook
by prominent German officials that Germany should act to expand its empire to other
parts of the world. Individuals who were bold enough to oppose this idea were
deemed “powerless vermin” (Johnson, 1991: 813)4. This feeling of superiority over
other peoples was epitomised in a letter written by General Lothar von Trotha,
commander-in-chief of German South-West Africa:
African tribes…will only succumb to violent force. It has been and remains my
policy to exercise this violence with gross terrorism and even with cruelty. I
annihilate the African tribes by floods of money and floods of blood. It is only by
such sowings that something new will arise” (von Trotha, 1904; quoted in
Kössler & Melber, 2004: 20).
It is evident that “something new” meant control of the country once
competitors were removed - and by any means necessary. After the 1904 war, the
Hereros fled to the east of the country; a vast, barren semi-desert with insufficient
water. Not content with the few thousand Hereros remaining, von Trotha issued
orders for the German army to kill all remaining Hereros, mostly by restricting water
access points and poisoning any remaining water holes (Kössler & Melber, 2004). Any
African survivors were banned from owning land or cattle, which effectively inhibited
development of these societies - particularly the Herero, whose livelihoods depended
on cattle. The treatment of the indigenous peoples reflected that of German capitalist
policymaking towards peasants at the time, whereby the rural labour force were
4 Note the use of the term “vermin”, a word normally used to describe non-human pests
restricted from owning land, their labour services were intensified and their
movements were controlled (Greenberg, 1980).
As the 20th century wore on, German thinking grew more and more extreme,
heading towards the direction of The Final Solution. By 1915, a German writer
remarked that “individuals who do not produce anything of value cannot make any
claim to the right to exist” (Rohrbach, 1915). It was not, however, merely the Germans
that had such delusions of grandeur: colonisation of the neighbouring country, South
Africa, first by the Dutch and then English, resulted in similar atrocities of racial
exclusion. After the First World War began, the Union of South Africa invaded Namibia
and, by 1915, had taken control of the country; the forced marriage became “South-
West Africa”. Subjugation of the indigenous peoples continued unabated despite the
change of ownership: in fact, indigenous Namibians were marginalised and separated
to an even greater extent than what had occurred under German rule, which
ultimately led to the apartheid rulings that were orchestrated by the South African
settler government (Hunter, 2004b). During this time, homes inhabited by indigenous
communities were demolished and residents were forcibly relocated to new areas.
The Odendaal Commission of 1964 allocated defined regions of the country, known as
reserves or homelands, to each ethnic group. Financial budgets for these reserves
were restricted so as to reduce development, which, coupled with the lack of much-
needed grazing land in many of the reserves, pressured many communities to seek
employment on European-owned farms (Werner, 1998). Such forced poverty created
a large labour pool for the commercial livestock farmers to exploit, who were able to
benefit from the almost endless supply of workers, which allowed them to pay the
workers very low wages (Atkinson, 2007). More than 50% of the land, much of it in
areas of high mineral wealth and grazing quality, was allocated to the white minority,
while only 25% was given to the indigenous populations5 (Adams, Werner, & Vale,
During implementation of the Odendaal Commission, a Namibian political
group formed, called the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). This
indigenous oppositional group used military strength via the People’s Liberation Army
of Namibia (PLAN) to resist the colonisers (Suzman, 2002). Concurrently, the United
5 The rest being designated government lands for exploiting natural resources
Nations began to show increasing disdain to South African occupation of the country,
and finally, after a long battle for freedom by SWAPO, coupled with increasing
international pressure, independence was finally won from South African control after
a century of colonisation. The country was declared the “Republic of Namibia” in
March 1990 where black Namibians began to be reinstated into power to govern their
land. Predator control during colonisation
Running in parallel to the apartheid of black Africans during the 19th and 20th century
was the increasing segregation and control of Namibia’s wildlife populations, most
notably amongst predator species. The European attitude towards wildlife at this time
was to tame and dominate it (Carruthers, 1995), likely in part due to the Old
Testament idea (Benneh, Morgan, & Uitto, 1995; Pattberg, 2007) expressed in Genesis
(1:26-28) where it was assumed that God gave humans ‘dominion over the fish of the
sea, over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’.
Wildlife was considered another resource to control and mine, similar to the diamonds
being extracted from the country (MacKenzie, 1997). Much like the above view
expressed by Rohrbach (1915) towards humans, non-human animals were only
considered worthy of existence if they could offer some form of value. Colonisation
therefore resulted in a change of Namibia’s attitude towards wildlife from “other-than-
human persons” to “animals of enterprise” (White, 1994: 237-238).
The process of colonisation rested on the notion of segregation, both physically
and psychologically. By extrapolating far beyond what Darwin intended in his seminal
work on the origin of species, many Europeans settlers believed that there was a
hierarchy of evolutionary development - and therefore worth - amongst living
creatures (Cudworth & Hobden, 2014). Non-human animals were ranked on their
utilitarian value to humans (MacKenzie, 1997); at the bottom of this hierarchy,
according to the white settlers, were the carnivores (Beinart, 2012). These species
were designated “vermin” that had to be exterminated due to their propensity to kill
livestock, game and humans (Beinart, 2008). Financial incentives were implemented
across southern Africa to eradicate these “vermin” whereby hunters were rewarded in
monetary bounties for every carnivore killed (Beinart, 1989). Widespread wildlife
annihilation campaigns were initiated around the time of World War I, which used
firearms, trapping, poisoning, fencing, and dogs to aid this eradication (Beinart, 2012;
Bergman, Bodenchuk, & Marlow, 2013; Hey, 1974).
By 1961, white Namibian farmers had been given property rights over wildlife
by the settler government, which allowed both consumptive and non-consumptive
use. This new law also permitted lethal control of black-backed jackals Canis
mesomelas, spotted and brown hyenas Crocuta crocuta, Hyaena brunnea, African
wildcats Felis silvestris lybica, leopards Panthera pardus, African wild dogs Lycaon
pictus and caracals Caracal caracal (Botha, 2005). White southern-Namibian farmers,
who predominantly farmed small stock due to the arid climate and poor grazing,
complained of excessively high livestock depredation from black-backed jackals. The
perceived inability to coexist with jackals resulted in extensive lethal control of these
“vermin” on every livestock farm (Beinart, 2012). Once jackals had been largely
exterminated, the government tried to reduce future predator damage by subsidising
jackal-proof fencing on small-stock farms (MacDonald, 1896). Livestock farms in the
south therefore became virtually jackal-free from the 1970s. However, as the decades
progressed and Namibia drew closer to achieving an independent nation - where focus
was placed more on improving human rights and equality in the country - public
opinion also coincidentally began to slowly change in favour of tolerating predators
(De Waal, 2009). Government subsidisation of agriculture (and therefore predator
control) was halted by 1990 and black landowners and occupiers were finally given
property rights over wildlife from 1996 (Republic of Namibia, 1996).
Even after 25 years of independence, nearly half of the land is still owned by the
white minority and inequality between ethnic groups is prevalent: for example,
Namibia has one of the highest income inequalities in the world (Central Intelligence
Agency, 2013). On the commercial farmland, most owners are still white whereas
almost all employees on these farms are black (Hunter, 2004b). Discontent between
the rich and the poor persists to this day. It is unclear, however, whether these
historical, political, economic and social factors affect carnivore management on
unprotected lands.
Namibia has the highest population of cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus in the world,
as well as large populations of leopards and spotted hyenas, and smaller populations
of brown hyenas, lions and African wild dogs (Hanssen & Stander, 2004). Due to
conservation policies enacted since independence, Namibia has witnessed widespread
and dramatic increases in many wildlife species’ populations, including many of the
carnivore species (NACSO, 2013). This has been attributed to the fact that property
rights for wildlife have been given to communal landholders, which has provided
benefits of wildlife presence in the form of income and meat (Lindsey et al., 2013; Rust
& Marker, 2013). In terms of mitigating negative interactions between humans and
carnivores, because much of the country’s wildlife is found on commercial farmland
(Krugmann, 2001) including Namibia’s large carnivore species (Kauffman et al., 2007),
it was deemed important to direct research efforts in this geographic area.
Due to the recent increase in carnivore populations, farmers are now reporting
that they are experiencing more frequent livestock depredation (NACSO, 2013); this
not only threatens farmer livelihoods but could also jeopardise recolonising carnivore
species if farmers decide to turn to lethal methods to mitigate this problem (Rust &
Marker, 2014). Solutions currently used to resolve this challenge include education
into predator ecology and livestock management (Marker, Mills, & Macdonald, 2003),
translocating problem animals (Weise, Stratford, & van Vuuren, 2014), changing
husbandry practices (Stein, Fuller, Damery, Sievert, & Marker, 2010), limiting carnivore
immigration into farms via fences (Rust, Nghikembua, Kasser, & Marker, 2015; Weise,
Wessels, Munro, & Solberg, 2014), using guarding dogs to protect livestock (Marker,
Dickman, & Macdonald, 2005; Potgieter, Marker, Avenant, & Kerley, 2013) and
cooperatively managing carnivores consumptively and non-consumptively (Marker &
Boast, 2015). However, livestock depredation is still increasing nationally (NACSO,
2013), which indicates that either these methods have not been widely adopted
and/or may not have proven effective in some circumstances. It still remains unclear
how to resolve this issue.
Financial mechanisms, such as compensation or income from tourism, have
been suggested as a way to improve tolerance towards carnivores (Marker & Boast,
2015; Nelson et al., 2010; Stein et al., 2010) but some research has suggested that
these methods are fraught with challenges, as the costs of wildlife presence still
sometimes outweigh benefits, payments can be delayed (Kasaona, 2006) and the
schemes can suffer from unequal benefit distribution (Rust & Marker, 2014)6. It
therefore remains unknown as to what techniques are most effective and acceptable
for improving carnivore coexistence on Namibian farms.
The Namibian media regularly reports instances of human-wildlife conflict in
national newspapers, but no research to date has focused on how the media portray
carnivore conflict mitigation techniques. As the media have the power to change the
perceptions of their readers on the topics they cover (Gore & Knuth, 2009; Messmer,
Reiter, & West, 2001), their influence in the success of conservation interventions
should not be underestimated. It would therefore prove useful to understand how the
media frames carnivore management interventions.
Besides the media, attitudes towards carnivores are also affected by numerous
other factors. Research into the human dimensions of Namibian carnivore
conservation has indicated that carnivores are tolerated more in areas where financial
benefits can be gained from their presence, livestock depredation is low (Rust &
Marker, 2013), farmers believe that carnivores have an ecological role to play
(Schumann, Walls, & Harley, 2012), farms are part of a community-based conservation
initiative (hereafter denoted as a “conservancy”) (Schumann, Watson, & Schumann,
2008), farmers have received education into improved husbandry techniques (Rust &
Marker, forthcoming) and income derived from wildlife is higher than livestock farming
(Lindsey et al., 2013). However, there has been no published research in southern
Africa to determine how farmers and other stakeholders want to manage carnivores
on unprotected land, or indeed whether agreement can be made between
stakeholders (for instance, between policy makers and farmers) on resolving conflict.
Furthermore, the possible underlying social drivers of human-wildlife conflict
have been almost entirely ignored in Namibia7. Thus it is evident that the human
6 For more detailed reviews of the use, benefits and challenges of using compensation to improve
carnivore conservation, see elsewhere (e.g. Agarwala, Kumar, Treves, & Naughton-Treves, 2010; Boitani,
Ciucci, & Raganella-Pelliccioni, 2010; Naughton-Treves et al., 2003; Nyhus et al., 2005; Rollins & Briggs,
7 Except for one study, which indicated that there are various micro-, meso- and macro-level socio-
economic problems that affect conflict with wildlife on communal farms (Jones & Barnes, 2006).
dimensions of carnivore management in Namibia are vital to determine the factors
affecting carnivore coexistence, but there are many areas that have yet to be explored.
This research focuses on the north-central region of Namibia (Fig. 2) as this is the main
commercial cattle farming region of Namibia (Lange, Barnes, & Motinga, 1998) and is
also home to a high concentrations of carnivores (Hanssen & Stander, 2004). These
factors combined have the potential to create much conflict between livestock farmers
and carnivores.
Commercial farms in this area tend to range in size of 5,000 – 10,000 ha, the
size of which is mostly dictated by the annual rainfall. Besides cattle farming, many
farmers also have small stock to supplement income, as well as a growing number also
farming game animals or crops, producing charcoal, or offering trophy hunts or tourist
accommodation. Additionally, many farmers diversify their income streams in other
ways, such as working in the towns in other businesses alongside farming. This is
because livestock farming in Namibia is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a
living from due to increasing input costs and reduced profits (Hunter, 2004b).
The area is characterised by a thornbush savannah landscape with an
increasing density of woody bushes such as Acacia melifora. Receiving an average of
350-450 mm of rainfall annually, this semi-arid location is mostly suitable for grazing
cattle as this species requires good quality grass, which can be grown in the area.
Common game species present in this area include common duiker Sylvicapra
grimmia, common warthog Phacochoerus africanus, gemsbok Oryx gazella, greater
kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros, red hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus and steenbok
Raphicerus campestris; carnivore species include leopard, cheetah, brown hyena,
aardwolf Proteles cristata, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox Otocyon megalotis,
caracal and African wildcat. Commercial farmers are legally allowed to kill these
species, but must report certain rare species, such as cheetahs and leopards, to the
Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) upon being culled.
Figure 2. Map of Namibia showing study site in the north-central region
This research aimed to use social-science techniques, via a mixed-methods approach,
to gain an in-depth understanding of the human dimensions involved in the
coexistence between commercial livestock farmers and carnivores in Namibia from the
perspective of stakeholders involved in their management. Specifically, the objectives
were to:
1. develop a participatory decision-making exercise to determine whether
agreement could be made between a diverse group of stakeholders on how to
manage carnivores,
2. understand how the media framed financial incentives to reduce the
conservation conflicts surrounding carnivores and farmers, and
3. determine if there were any underlying social, political or economic causes of
negative human-carnivore interactions on commercial livestock farms.
The first objective dealt with participation in decision making. To understand the
views of all stakeholders affected by carnivore conservation, a participatory decision-
making exercise was undertaken to determine whether there was agreement on the
most effective way(s) to manage carnivores on Namibian farmland. This was deemed
an important first step towards creating a participatory framework for wildlife
management because conflict between stakeholders can stall interventions, as has
been seen in other parts of the world (Raik, Lauber, Decker, & Brown, 2005; Thirgood
& Redpath, 2008). If stakeholders agree on certain management techniques, it may
bridge divides between the groups and begin to form a cooperative alliance that can
start to work collaboratively to manage carnivores in a participatory manner (Redpath
et al., 2004). This exercise can also shed light on potential areas of disagreement
between stakeholders, which is important for policy makers to understand so that such
conflicting areas are not proposed without dealing with this dissensus first.
Globally, there has been an interest in the use of financial incentives to conserve
biodiversity, including for use in carnivore conservation (Dickman et al., 2011; Nelson,
2009). Some of these incentives are employed in Namibia (Marker & Boast, 2015), but
it is not clear what the public attitudes are towards these incentives. The second
objective determined how financial incentives for carnivore conservation were framed
in the national media. This media angle is important to understand because the way in
which an article is framed can direct the reader into forming a particular opinion on
that topic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1982). If financial incentives are constantly framed
either positively or negatively, the media has the power to affect adoption of these
mitigation methods, which could then play a part in their overall success and
The third objective used qualitative social-science methods to examine the
underlying drivers of negative human-carnivore interactions in Namibia. Little is
known about whether Namibia’s complex political history could influence carnivore
management on commercial livestock farms. By undertaking extensive participant
observation and unstructured and semi-structured interviews on farms, a rich picture
was obtained on how macro-level social, political and economic factors influences
micro-level farm management, including management of predators.
Results from this research can be used to highlight the complexity of achieving
coexistence with carnivores due to the underlying, often hidden, human dimensions
involved in this problem. It concludes by underlining the recently-postulated theory
that “conflict” between carnivores and people is less the result of a direct antagonistic
relationship between these species but rather more precisely as the conflict between
different groups of people over wildlife management caused by long-standing
historical, social and political factors that have resulted in a truly wicked problem (Hill,
2015; J. Knight, 2000; Redpath, Bhatia, & Young, 2015). Although this research focuses
exclusively on Namibia, themes that emerge are pertinent to carnivore conservation
globally, particularly in areas where widespread segregation still occurs – both
between different groups of people and between different groups of species.
Conservationists are becoming increasingly aware that many biodiversity problems are
caused by humans. We must therefore use social science methods to study the human
dimensions of wildlife. In this chapter, I describe the most common social science
paradigms, theories, methodologies and methods used for studying human-carnivore
coexistence. I explain the pros and cons of these techniques and highlight previous
examples of their use when studying the human dimensions of carnivore conservation.
I also describe the ethical considerations taken during data collection, analysis and
discussion. I conclude with the methods chosen for this thesis and the reasons for
their use.
Keywords: paradigms, qualitative, quantitative, social science, theories
Conservationists are becoming increasingly aware of the need for, but current lack of,
social scientists when studying, planning for and undertaking conservation projects
(Chan et al., 2007; Dickman, 2010; Marchini & Crawshaw, 2015). It has been suggested
that social science can assist in helping to tackle the anthropogenic threats towards
carnivores (Dickman, Marchini, & Manfredo, 2013). Conservation conflicts in
particular can threaten social connections between people, which can develop and
mirror the wider conflicts associated with different values and perspective that people
hold towards wildlife (Anthony, Scott, & Antypas, 2010; Goldman, Roque De Pinho, &
Perry, 2010). More legitimate and acceptable strategies for mitigation can therefore
be created by analysing this problem with a social science lens through the eyes of
various actors (Anthony & Swemmer, 2015).
One way that researchers have tried to explore how to improve human-
carnivore coexistence is by understanding causes of livestock depredation. Many of
these studies have focused on environmental factors influencing depredation, such as
distance to protected areas (Holmern, Nyahongo, & Røskaft, 2007), season (Michalski,
Boulhosa, Faria, & Peres, 2006), prey density (Soh et al., 2014) and vegetation cover
(Bradley & Pletscher, 2005). Although the results from these studies aid our
understanding of the ecological drivers related to why carnivores predate upon
livestock, they alone often cannot solve conservation conflicts because much of this
conflict is based upon people’s perceived rather than actual risk to damage caused by
carnivores (Inskip et al., 2013; Marker et al., 2003). These perceptions are not only
based on lived experiences, but also relate to the values, beliefs and norms of the
individuals involved (Marchini & Macdonald, 2012; Slimak & Dietz, 2006). We can
therefore work towards coexistence between humans and carnivores by tackling the
reasons for real and perceived conflict between wildlife and humans, as well as
improving tolerance towards wildlife (Jackson, 2015; Treves, Wallace, & Naughton-
Treves, 2006).
Social science techniques can help us to better understand these complex issues
(Manfredo & Dayer, 2004) and have proven essential when planning for successful
carnivore conflict interventions (Jackson, 2015; Treves, Wallace, Naughton-Treves, &
Morales, 2006). There are many techniques on offer, each with benefits and
challenges. It is firstly important to consider what paradigm and theory underpin the
When planning a social science study on carnivores, it is necessary to consider the
paradigm that will be employed. Positivism and interpretivism are useful paradigms for
studies of this ilk. Positivism tests a theory using the deductive, scientific process and
seeks to objectively explain phenomena (Grix, 2010). Intepretivism studies the social
world from within, where complete objectivity is impossible; this sees phenomena as
socially constructed, and interprets and understands what this means (Grix, 2010).
Positivism may be more useful when examining the effectiveness of certain conflict
mitigation strategies for individual households, whereas interpretivism could help
understand the role of social knowledge, individual values or attitudes in carnivore
conservation. The paradigm chosen guides the theory, methodology and methods.
Theory is the systematically interrelated concepts and schemes that help explain
or predict a phenomenon or behaviour, within certain conditions or assumptions
(Bhattacherjee, 2012). There are a number of theoretical perspectives to consider for
social science studies, the most relevant to this study is political ecology. This deals
with the relationships between political, economic and social components of ecological
issues at local and global scales (Robbins, 2004). It is concerned with power dynamics,
knowledge production, perceptions of environment and identity, and their intersection
with resource management.
When deciding which method(s) to use, the first step is usually to determine the
research question and aims, which will direct the theory and technique(s) that may be
most suitable (Drury et al., 2011).
There are a wide variety of different methods and approaches to use when
understanding human-carnivore coexistence from a human-dimensions perspective.
These range from inductive to deductive, qualitative to quantitative, targeted towards
individuals or groups, requiring small or large sample sizes and undertaken over a short
or long timeframe (Newing, Eagle, Puri, & Watson, 2010). What approach to take
often depends on:
how focused the research questions are and what they aim to achieve;
the extent of prior knowledge and/or experience of the topic or study area; and
any research constraints (e.g. time, budget, cultural or ethical considerations,
By dividing the following section into categories based on the first two of these
factors, the merits and challenges of each method shall be discussed. I draw on
examples of their use in recent studies related to our understanding and/or mitigation
of human-carnivore conflict to highlight their use in this area.
2.3.1 When Little is Known about a Topic or When Conventional Thinking is Challenged
There are instances where carnivore coexistence has been relatively unstudied, for
example in politically unstable countries (Mishra & Fitzherbert, 2004); conversely, even
in extensively researched areas, a new methodological approach could question
established thinking. In these situations, it may be appropriate to use inductive and/or
qualitative techniques that develop theory from observations. Unlike quantitative or
deductive methods that seek external validity through rigorous statistics, qualitative
approaches aim to develop a deep understanding of a specific topic or study area by
delving into core values, emotions, cultures and relationships that may explain
phenomena (Drury et al., 2011). In terms of research on human-carnivore coexistence,
this approach could help describe the foundations upon which beliefs relate to
behaviour, such as why individuals prefer to use lethal rather than non-lethal methods
to manage predators. There are a variety of qualitative methods and approaches that
can be chosen depending on the situation. A summary of the most common of these
are listed below, along with their benefits, challenges, and use in carnivore coexistence
research. Case study approach
A case study is an in-depth analysis of a particular situation that gathers a detailed
understanding of phenomena to develop or generate theories (Patton & Appelbaum,
2003). Choosing a case to study depends on practical and logistical constraints as well
as theoretical considerations, such as uniqueness of the site or ability to contribute to
wider issues. It is useful for the researcher to have a basic understanding of the study
site to ensure efficient data collection, but being very familiar with the site can create
biases (Gummesson, 1991). Case studies can be used when experiments have trouble
explaining real-life situations (Patton & Appelbaum, 2003). When studying a novel
topic, new knowledge can be gained from almost any case study, whereas if a topic has
been researched extensively in the past, choosing cases that contradicts current
thinking can provide interesting insight (Newing, 2010).
One of the biggest strengths of using a case study approach is the ability to
utilise a wide variety of data collection methods, such as document analysis, interviews
and observations (Yin, 1984). However, they have been criticised for their subjectivity
and lack of rigor, validity and representativeness, particularly those that use qualitative
methods (Hamel, 1993). These criticisms can be minimised through correct research
design by, for example, using triangulation to verify data (Patton & Appelbaum, 2003).
Case studies have been frequently used in human-carnivore coexistence
studies. The relationship between tigers Panthera tigris and Indian Gujjars used a case
study approach in northern India to understand the ecological, economic and social
factors influencing tiger conservation (Harihar, 2013), whereas Balme et al. (2014)
used a case study of leopards in South Africa to study the conservation needs of large
carnivores. Because of the difficulty in undertaking experimental or quasi-
experimental tests in real-life situations, case studies are popular in understanding
conservation problems and can offer almost endless possibilities for research topics. Grounded theory approach
Another approach of qualitative inquiry is grounded theory, which is an iterative,
inductive framework (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Researchers start data collection before
any hypotheses have been made so that they can develop an understanding of the
situation before directing the focus of research question(s) (Glaser, 1978).
Observations are recorded on a particular scenario, which are immediately analysed to
understand if there are any recurrent themes or important aspects of the topic that
should influence the direction of the research topic (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The
researcher then starts to delve further into the topic to gain a deep understanding of
these themes and the possible links between them. In effect, theory is generated from
data, in contrast to the deductive method of generating data from researcher-defined
theories (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).
Like case studies, grounded theory is an approach to guide research design,
rather than a method (Backman & Kyngäs, 1999). Researchers can use a variety of
data collection methods such as in-depth, qualitative interviews, participant
observation or document analysis. This approach can help to provide a detailed
picture on a topic and may uncover surprising findings that have previously been
missed. However, it is time- and labour-intensive, requiring substantial knowledge of
the techniques involved in undertaking and analysing data, which may be confusing to
researchers unfamiliar with grounded theory (Backman & Kyngäs, 1999). It could be a
useful approach where, for example, previous conflict mitigation strategies have not
been successful because underlying social, political or economic reasons have been
poorly understood.
Grounded theory has rarely been used to understand human-carnivore
coexistence, possibly because this research field has not commonly, until relatively
recently, embraced qualitative social science techniques (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2009).
Some exceptions include Howard’s (2006) article that used grounded theory to
understand how humans perceived dingoes Canis lupus dingo, and Gore and Kahler’s
(2012) article that applied this approach to understand gendered risk perception of
human-carnivore conflict. This framework may provide an alternative to conventional
paradigms used in carnivore conservation research and could offer striking,
unanticipated conclusions. Participant observation
Participant observation is a common qualitative method, often used where there is
scant knowledge about a topic or where more information needs to be gained on the
social, cultural or psychological aspects of a conservation challenge. It is “a relatively
unstructured method for studying people as they go about their daily routines and
activities… describing how and why people do what they do” (Puri, 2011: 85).
Researchers live in the community in which they are studying, building rapport with
the study population and undertake activities in the study site to understand how the
community works, what challenges participants face and how they deal with these
(Spradley, 1980).
A thorough understanding of a phenomenon can be gained from participant
observation, for example on intangible motivations behind beliefs and behaviours that
are otherwise unobtainable via structured interviews (Bernard, 2002). The researcher
is not only limited to the respondent’s recall in an interview but is also there to
observe events such as livestock depredation and how this is dealt with first-hand by
respondents. This information can then be compared to how different people describe
their perceptions of the event afterwards. It is therefore extremely useful to use this
method in conjunction with interviews and can be important when triangulating data.
The main drawback to participant observation is the time needed to be fully
immersed in a community; this can be a year or more (Puri, 2011). It is also extremely
useful to learn the language of the area (if applicable), which may require further time
and training (Spradley, 1980). Misunderstandings and miscommunication could lead
to misrepresenting the situation (Becker & Geer, 1978); this problem can be reduced
through, for example, fact checking with other resources. The researcher must be
aware of her or his own personal emotions and values, and how these may shape
perceptions of what the researcher thinks is going on (Schwartz & Schwartz, 1955).
Furthermore, the validity of the conclusions to be applied elsewhere is minimal, as the
observations are normally very context specific; however, underlying processes
uncovered that explain more generalised topics may be transferable elsewhere (Drury
et al., 2011). Lastly, the evaluations developed using this method are strongly
dependent on the researcher’s interpretation rather than how the community
themselves explain their culture.
Published participant observation studies have been used to understand
human-carnivore coexistence only when in conjunction with other methods, such as
interviews and participatory exercises. For instance, Kent (2011) used participant
observation with questionnaires (see to understand the perceptions and
attitudes of farmers towards carnivores. Other carnivore researchers undertook
participant observation prior to using Participatory Rural Appraisal (see to
build trust with the local community, which was believed to help ensure accuracy of
reported facts later on in the study period (Hazzah, Borgerhoff Mulder, & Frank, 2009).
Other journal articles on carnivore coexistence mention using participant observation
only in passing, but do not explain the way in which this was carried out or how data
were then used or analysed using this method (e.g. Garcia-Alaniz, Naranjo, & Mallory,
2010; Mishra et al., 2003; Nie, 2001; Rastogi, Badola, Hussain, & Hickey, 2010).
It may prove fruitful for researchers to fully embrace the potential of
participant observation when trying to explain otherwise hidden values, beliefs and
attitudes towards wildlife species (Drury et al., 2011). Indeed, conflict observed
between different groups of people can be due to the failure of each party to show
empathy towards others, thus not being able to understand and appreciate the
reasons why people act and think the ways they do (Weiss et al., 2006). Participant
observation may therefore provide a crucial tool to build positive relationships
between researchers and the communities they are studying, rather than the
antagonistic relationships that are sometimes present (e.g. Treves, Wallace, &
Naughton-Treves, 2006).
37 Ethnography
Ethnography is a method most frequently used in anthropology and has similarities
with participant observation. It is, however, different in that it focuses more
prominently on cultural understandings of phenomena. Like participant observation, it
involves spending a long time (usually between 8 months to 2 years) at a study site,
learning about a topic through observing and participating. It also employs qualitative
interviews (see, as well as archival research and life histories.
The main benefit of using ethnography is the depth that it can offer on complex
issues particularly related to their social, cultural and symbolic values (Hill, 2015).
Additionally, it can help to test theories throughout the study period, offer new angles
on contentions and conflict, and provide a holistic picture of a situation (Hoholm &
Araujo, 2011). However, it suffers from a number of methodological challenges,
possibly the most serious of which being that it can be open to subjective bias based
upon the researcher’s understanding of the topic, which can be made worse by
researcher reactivity (Hoholm & Araujo, 2011). Additionally, it can be difficult to
replicate the study.
Ethnography has been rarely utilised to study coexistence with carnivores
(although see Baynes-Rock, 2012; Herrmann et al., 2013; Lescureux & Linnell, 2010).
There is, however, a growing body of literature on understanding human-animal
relations (termed “anthrozoology”) through an ethnographic approach (e.g. Gade,
2006; Goldman et al., 2010; Muñoz, 2005; Nyyssönen & Salmi, 2013). Due to the time
constraints of this research, ethnography was deemed inappropriate to use in this
study. Qualitative interviews
Interviews can be integrated with the above and/or below approaches, or used as a
stand-alone method. They can be undertaken in an informal, unstructured, semi-
structured, structured manner (see, or in combination (Newing, 2011a):
Informal interviews are conversations between the researcher and the study
participants as participants go about their daily lives. They are not pre-
arranged and there are no set questions defined in advance. The emphasis is
on the participant talking and the researcher asking probing questions to gain
further information on the topic (Newing, 2011a). They are more likely than
semi-structured interviews to reveal guarded information, such as instances of
poaching, and can set the scene at the start of the study or be used later in
triangulation to check consistency of data (Newing, 2011a). Additionally,
informal interviews are useful to find potential respondents for future data
Unstructured interviews, which are arranged in advance with a set topic to
discuss, allow the researcher to guide the conversation to a greater degree.
They are helpful to use at the start of a research project, but are also able to
delve further into topics to potentially uncover unexpected information.
Semi-structured interviews are similar to unstructured interviews, but the
researcher uses an interview guide that details questions or themes to be
covered (Bernard, 2006). They are more targeted towards pre-defined topics
and can be used to compare responses between participants (Newing, 2011a).
It is common for this type of interview to be used to help design questionnaires
(Drury et al., 2011) or towards the end of a grounded theory approach once
initial theories have been postulated. This is in order to gain a greater
understanding of the emerging themes.
Interviews can be between individuals or groups, the latter of which is called a
focus group. Focus groups usually involve the researcher setting pre-defined
topics and are beneficial when the researcher wants to learn about conflicting
views or would like groups to generate ideas collectively (see 2.3.3), but may be
biased against participants who feel uncomfortable sharing views in a group
setting (Newing, 2011a).
The results can be analysed qualitatively in a descriptive manner, although semi-
structured interviews in particular lend themselves more to quantitative analysis if
designed correctly. However, they may not achieve the same breadth that
questionnaires cover, nor can they achieve the same statistical rigour. Each interview
can also take much longer to carry out when compared with questionnaires because
the respondent often elaborates on certain points (Drury et al., 2011). Care must be
taken in how qualitative interviews are analysed, as critical communication is not just
what the person says but how it is said and in what context (Drury et al., 2011).
39 Qualitative content analysis
Content analysis is another method that can be used either for qualitative or
quantitative research in an inductive or deductive manner (Shepherd & Achterberg,
1992). It is a systematic way to simplify complicated communication messages
(written, verbal or visual) into core themes (Kondracki, Wellman, & Amundson, 2002).
It aims to determine underlying meanings of communication messages to build theory
around topics (Berg, 1998) and is sometimes used for preliminary data analysis when
data have already been collected. It can draw conclusions on “the presence or
absence of particular ideas, theories, or biases; the extent of coverage of specified
topics; contradictions or myths, to name but a few applications” (Kondracki et al.,
2002: 224). Inductive forms can employ a grounded theory approach as a basis for the
research design (Berg, 1998), whereas deductive approaches begin with
predetermined themes or questions that are searched for or answered within the
Although content analysis may suffer from the problem of accidentally or
purposefully inaccurate portrayal of facts in the communication medium (Gerbner,
1964), it could be a valuable tool to determine the perceptions of wildlife, along with
conservation topics that the general public understand and are interested in (Webb &
Raffaelli, 2008). Content analysis also benefits from being a relatively unobtrusive,
cost-effective form of data collection (Kondracki et al., 2002). Using online media,
trends can be easily tracked over a long period of time (e.g. Houston, Bruskotter, &
Fan, 2010). However, it is impossible to infer causality for variables and there is
limited validity to extend conclusions to other contexts (Berg, 1998).
Qualitative content analysis has been employed numerous times in carnivore
research: for example, when examining applications for permits to kill wolves in
Sweden (Sjölander-Lindqvist, 2015) and to understand the stories written about two
threatened felid species (Herrmann et al., 2013). It is a diverse tool that could be
useful in situations where discourse on carnivores have been published in the media
over an extended period of time and also has the ability to analyse other documents
such as public comments on proposed wildlife management interventions or even
online content such as YouTube videos or Tweets.
2.3.2 When Research Questions are Targeted and Background Information has been
As there has already been a wide range of research undertaken in a variety of areas of
carnivore conservation studying many species and the conflicts surrounding them,
researchers can build on this knowledge to produce targeted research questions. In
this instance, semi-structured interviews (see and structured interviews (i.e.
questionnaires) may be the most appropriate methods to employ for focused research
questions that aim to test theories. Questionnaires
Questionnaires are formal interviews that use structured, fixed questions. They usually
require short responses that are normally chosen from a set of predefined answers
(Newing, 2011b).
Questionnaires are a common method used in human-carnivore coexistence
studies. This could be because they can elicit large amounts of data on targeted
information from many respondents, which can then be analysed statistically and
generalised conclusions can be drawn (Bernard, 2002). Sampling is often undertaken
in a random manner, allowing for conclusions to be externally valid. Questionnaires
can be undertaken relatively quickly, particularly when self-administered.
There are, however, challenges to using questionnaires for research on human-
carnivore coexistence. For instance, when these surveys are undertaken without prior
research into the subject or study population, it is difficult to determine whether the
questions are relevant or biased (Browne-Nuñez & Jonker, 2008). As there is often a
limited chance of follow-up questions to probe reasons behind the respondents’
answers, questionnaires are constrained because they cannot usually determine the
underlying reasons for participants’ answers (Newing, 2011b). Research questions
must be very clear and focused, which is not always possible or appropriate.
Furthermore, the use of cross-cultural questionnaires, especially in developing
countries, can be problematic (Browne-Nuñez & Jonker, 2008; Manfredo & Dayer,
2004). Additionally, this method of data collection has been criticised for imposing the
researcher’s ideology on the topic (Drury et al., 2011), which can distort reality
towards the perspective of the researcher (Cicourel, 2004). It is particularly important
to ensure that this does not happen when researchers are undertaking questionnaires
in foreign countries where local culture and social structure may be very different
(Drury et al., 2011).
For carnivore conflict research, questionnaires are advantageous when recording
openly-discussed facts such as use of husbandry methods or demographic details.
They are, however, less helpful when describing why individuals do or think certain
things, such as why people use particular predator deterrents, or why they have
particular views towards carnivores (Drury et al., 2011). Furthermore, some
information is culturally or socially sensitive, such as wealth (including number of
livestock in some cultures) or use of illegal predator control methods; it is therefore
inappropriate to ask these questions in this format. Incorrect usage of questionnaires,
such as insufficient background knowledge of the target population and lack of
piloting, can compromise the validity of conclusions (Drury et al., 2011). Indeed,
questionnaires used in conservation publications often fail to:
explain why the method and variables were chosen over others;
define the measured factors; or
undertake pilots.
These above points weaken any internal validity (Browne-Nuñez & Jonker, 2008).
Questionnaires can however be effective towards the end of data collection once
broad research questions have been answered, focus has been refined, information
has been gathered about the topic in order to produce appropriate, targeted
questions, and rapport has been built with the local community. Quantitative content analysis
Quantitative content analysis can be used to examine common ideas, spatial and
temporal trends of topics and the relative importance of different themes (Shepherd &
Achterberg, 1992). It also benefits from the possibility of conducting statistical
analyses on the results. This technique complements qualitative methods via cross-
checking to ensure internal validity. For example, interviews that recount events of
carnivore attacks on people can be corroborated with news articles and government
records of these events, which may add different perspectives and thereby has the
potential to achieve a more holistic understanding of how the event took place and
how certain actors perceived it.
Alexander and Quinn (2012) have used a grounded theory approach in
quantitative content analysis to find common words used to describe the interactions
between coyotes Canis latrans and humans, whereas Houston et al. (2010) employed
this method to understand whether there had been a change over time in the way
wolves had been described in the media.
2.3.3 When Planning Interventions in a Participatory Manner
Human-wildlife interactions are sometimes studied to understand the circumstances in
which conflict occurs in order to plan for effective mitigation strategies. However, in
the past, interventions tended to be imposed upon affected communities with little
consultation (Hill, 2015), which can result in the schemes being locally unacceptable or
inappropriate (Jackson, 2015; Treves, Wallace, Naughton-Treves, et al., 2006). It is
therefore essential to involve the local communities at all stages of the planning and
implementation process (Jackson, 2000; Treves, Wallace, & White, 2009). A number of
techniques are used to ensure locals participate in the planning stages of an
intervention, which usually bring stakeholders together in face-to-face meetings or
workshops to discuss management options. Achieving agreement between different
groups of people can however be challenging, particularly when stakeholder groups
have opposing views (Redpath et al., 2004).
Participatory planning has been subject to criticism in the past, as local elites
are often chosen as part of the planning process, which may not represent the views of
other sectors of the community (Menzies, 2004). There can also be peer pressure to
conform to the views of powerful individuals in a group setting (Dalkey, 1972). It is
therefore essential to collect views from a wide range of actors in the study area to
ensure the unequal effects of power and influence on different community members
are overcome. There are a number of techniques that have been developed in
different disciplines to improve participatory planning and consensus formation. More
detailed reviews can be found elsewhere (e.g. Reed, 2008; Rowe & Frewer, 2000;
Stringer et al., 2006) therefore I will focus on those that are most applicable to my
research questions.
43 Participatory Research
Participatory research is where researchers work with individuals from their study site
to collaboratively analyse and design plans for action (Baum, MacDougall, & Smith,
2006). It is best suited when the aim is to co-produce new knowledge on social and
environmental issues or when working with minorities as it takes power imbalances
into consideration (Ballard & Belsky, 2010).
Rapid rural appraisal (RRA), which arose from dissatisfaction with the time it
took to collect survey data, can loosely be described as participatory research. A group
of interdisciplinary researchers spend between a few days to a few weeks with a
community to gather a variety of data. Information can be collected and triangulated
via methods such as archival searches, workshops, interviews, focus groups and
participatory mapping exercises. However, the technique has come under increasing
attack as it was thought to maintain power differentials between outsiders and local
communities (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995).
In its place, participatory rural appraisal (PRA) has emerged. Although useful
in finding outcomes that are locally-relevant and legitimate, the process itself is equally
as important as the results (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995). A key attribute of PRA is that
the researcher’s role morphs from director to facilitator. Participatory Rural Appraisal,
such as risk mapping and decision modelling, have been used with success in previous
studies of human-carnivore coexistence (e.g. Jackson & Wangchuk, 2004; Redpath et
al., 2004; Treves, Andriamampianina, Didier, et al., 2006).
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is one step further than PRA, where
participants collectively define, research and evaluate a topic, but more importantly,
power is placed almost entirely within the hands of the local communities, whereas
the researcher acts more as a catalyst for the research rather than a guide. This can,
however, be difficult to undertake in practice as local communities guide the research
where they want to go – which may not be in the same direction as desired by the
researcher (Newing et al., 2010). Criticism has been made about PAR for being biased,
unreliable and susceptible to oversimplifying the challenges with participation and
power (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995; Hayward, Simpson, & Wood, 2004) but again
depends on how it is undertaken.
One form of participatory research is a citizens’ jury, which takes inspiration
from the legal trial by jury. The “jury” consists of randomly-selected individuals from a
study site who are asked to cross-question expert “witnesses”, who are specialists in
the field. The jury works together to summarise their perspectives on the issue, which
are then presented to an advisory panel (Aldred & Jacobs, 2000). The idea behind
citizen juries is to strengthen democracy by providing the general public with a voice
over policy decision-making. Given enough time and resources, it is supposed that
ordinary people can rationalise and make valid decisions on very complicated
problems (Aldred & Jacobs, 2000).
The main strength in the use of citizen juries is to create more informed,
deliberative citizenry through the process of participatory decision-making (Fishkin,
1995). However, it has been suggested that information flows uni-directionally
towards citizens rather than bi-directionally between policy makers and citizens
(Abelson et al., 2003). Citizen juries suffer from top-down power imbalances
(Dunkerley & Glasner, 1998) as the (often unelected and unrepresentative) advisory
board can ignore the suggestions from the report. Additionally, the meeting often
takes place behind closed doors (Rowe & Frewer, 2000), reducing its transparency, and
concerns have been raised on the representativeness of the jury due to sampling bias
or effect size (Pitkin, 1967).
Similar to a citizen’s jury is a consensus conference, which also uses a citizen
panel to assess the knowledge of a group of experts on a chosen topic (Blok, 2007). An
introductory summary is provided by the planning committee to the citizen panel prior
to the event with the aim of giving background information to the topic. The panel is
offered a selection of experts to choose from to interrogate and identify questions that
they would like to pose to the experts. At the conference, experts are given the
opportunity to respond to questions and the panel then summarise their shared view
on the topic in a report, which gets distributed to stakeholders.
Like other deliberative democratic exercises, citizen juries and consensus
conferences draw on Habermas’ communicative rationality, where individuals are able
to undertake reasoned judgement and create shared understandings (Dryzek, 2000).
Unlike citizen juries, though, consensus conferences benefit from engaging with
citizens early in the process (Rowe & Frewer, 2000). This form of participation is useful
in situations with conflict between stakeholders, a high degree of uncertainty and
where values and knowledge are difficult to separate (Pellizzoni, 2003).
Consensus conferences do, however, suffer from a number of problems. For
example, the esoteric nature of some expert discourse, along with their high social
status, could influence their perception by the citizen panel, biasing their reasoned
judgement (Fixdal, 1997). Furthermore, like citizen juries, the panel is at risk of being
influenced by the experts’ backgrounds, eloquence and affiliations (Aldred & Jacobs,
2000). Thus, similar to other participatory decision-making exercises, the makeup of
the expert panel has the capacity to influence the outcome, threatening its legitimacy
(Blok, 2007).
No known consensus conferences or citizen juries have been undertaken in the
discipline of carnivore coexistence, but they have been used in environmental planning
and environmental conflicts (e.g. Andersen & Jæger, 1999; Konisky & Beierle, 2001;
Rauschmayer & Wittmer, 2006). It is unclear why these methods have not yet been
used; possibly the challenges of these methods have played a part, particularly when
other participatory decision-making exercises such as multi-criteria analysis (see do not suffer from many of these problems. Multi-Criteria Analysis
Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a quantitative technique used to systematically
differentiate, rank or analyse trade-offs and scenarios. This process helps to
understand the effect that each decision has on outcomes or impacts (Linkov et al.,
2006). Extensive reviews of this method for use in conservation have already been
published (e.g. Davies, Bryce, & Redpath, 2013; Kiker, Bridges, Varghese, Seager, &
Linkov, 2005; Moffett & Sarkar, 2006; Rauschmayer & Wittmer, 2006) therefore I will
only provide a brief summary of this method.
The main use of MCA so far in carnivore conservation has been through asking
experts to estimate ecological variables, such as modelling potential carnivore habitat
(e.g. Jia & Liu, 2011; Larue & Nielsen, 2011) but it has also been occasionally employed
when understanding different stakeholder perspectives on mitigation strategies (e.g.
Redpath et al., 2004; Treves et al., 2009). Being a method able to combine
uncertainty, valuation and risk levels, it can systematically allow decision makers to
transparently critique each option (Yoe, 2002). As various types of information
(including qualitative and quantitative) can be assessed, it can quantify often ignored
variables such as social values and local knowledge (Balana, Mathijs, & Muys, 2010).
Feedback on the decisions of others can be provided during the exercise, which can
allow participants to consider the diversity of opinions within the group rather than on
the disagreements (Redpath et al., 2004). Uncertainties can be highlighted and the
holistic data collection ensures legitimacy of options (Davies et al., 2013).
However, the lack of transparency of some aspects of the process (particularly
the analysis) can threaten the legitimacy of the outcomes (Rauschmayer & Wittmer,
2006). It may not be suitable to use MCA in very complicated settings (Stirling, 2006),
particularly those involving different scales, and there can be problems with weighting
the responses to ensure stakeholder views are represented accurately (Davies et al.,
2013). Concern has also been raised on the influence of power and bias in the process,
affecting the fairness and representativeness of the technique (Stirling, 2006). Lastly,
the various ways to conduct MCA can result in very different outcomes, questioning its
robustness (Greening & Bernow, 2004). Delphi Technique
The Delphi technique is an iterative process of decision making where “experts” can
form a consensus on how to solve a complex problem (Dalkey & Helmer, 1963). An
“expert” can be defined as someone with substantial knowledge and experience on
the chosen topic, such as policy makers or wildlife managers, but this could equally
include experts with lay knowledge such as landowners or community members. The
panel of experts is asked to anonymously offer their opinions on a chosen topic, the
results of which are then collected and analysed by the researcher and distributed
anonymously back to the panellists. Panellists have the opportunity to offer their
opinion again based upon the results of the last round of questioning. Once more,
results are collected and relayed back to the group, and the process can be repeated
until an agreement is made. Usually, three rounds are sufficient to reach a majority
consensus (Green, Hunter, & Moore, 1990).
The main benefit of using this rather than face-to-face group work is that the
anonymity in Delphi improves honest discussion and lowers inhibitions between the
panellists (Hess & King, 2002). Like MCA, it is also assumed that asking many experts
to offer suggestions to a complex problem may offer more reliable solutions than
when consulting only a few individuals (MacMillan & Marshall, 2006). This method is
often used in policy formation as it allows for potentially conflicting groups to
deliberate and learn from each other on problems that may have be difficult to solve
otherwise (Dalkey, 1972). It can formulate ideas via group participation that
individuals might not have achieved independently. It is useful to employ in situations
when there is a lack of supporting data, a risk of uncertain outcomes and an urgency to
act (Hess & King, 2002) – attributes often present in many conservation conflict
situations. Additionally, it can prove beneficial when experts are unable to physically
meet due to geographic or time constraints (Adler, 1996) – or indeed if meeting in
person could inflame conflict between different stakeholders. Following this, as with
many conflict situations where different stakeholder groups are polarised, this method
may prove beneficial to create positive dialogue and agreement between stakeholders
(MacMillan & Marshall, 2006).
The greatest strength in using the Delphi technique is perhaps possibly its
greatest weakness; the subjectivity of the responses. It is open to bias or speculation
although these can be reduced by ensuring the process is rigorous and transparent
(MacMillan & Marshall, 2006). It may be more appropriate to use when the aim is to
understand the perceptions of reality by a group of individuals. Thought must also be
given on how to select appropriate experts, convey information to the experts and
define consensus (Schuster, Frissell, Baker, & Loveless, 1985).
The Delphi technique has been used numerous times in carnivore conservation,
but has mostly focused on understanding ecological factors related to carnivore
habitat (e.g. Hess & King, 2002; Rathore, Dubey, Shrivastava, Pathak, & Patil, 2012).
There are no known published articles on using this method to make decisions on how
to mitigate carnivore conflict, despite being regarded as potentially useful in this
situation (Mukherjee et al., 2015). Q-Methodology
Q-methodology is a structured quantitative interview where participants are asked to
rank-order predefined statements on a scale dependent upon how much they agree or
disagree (Brown, 1980). Rather than searching for trends in data related to factors
such as age or sex (as with a conventional questionnaire), Q-methodology determines
trends within and across individuals (Barry & Proops, 1999). This provides an
individualised subjective weighting of the statements and can show similarities and
differences in ranking across participants (Brown, 2004). Statements used for the
ranking should be gathered from interviewing a subset of the target population on the
topic, which can be supplemented by collecting information from other sources, such
as newspapers or archives (Barry & Proops, 1999). This will reduce researcher bias in
formulating the statements. These statements are then used to develop a “Q-sort”,
which is a set of statements that respondents are asked to rank.
In the Q-sort, participants (called the P-set) are given the same fixed number of
statements (normally 40-60) and are asked to place them along a predefined scale (e.g.
-4 to +4) reflecting the extent to which they agree with each statement. The structure
of the ranking usually follows a quasi-normal distribution, with the majority of
statements having to be placed around the zero mark, which leaves the extremes of
the scale (e.g. strongly agree or disagree) to permit only one or two statements at each
end (Thomas & Watson, 2002). This pyramidal structure ensures that the cards placed
at the extremes are carefully thought through and reflect the statements that the
respondents feel most strongly about (Barry & Proops, 1999). Data analysis is
undertaken in specially-designed Q-sort programs that undertake factor analysis on
the data to produce a ‘best estimate’ of the interaction of factors (Brown, 1980). The
factors that are grouped together represent participants who ranked statements
similarly. An average weighting (or z-score) of each statement is also provided, which
corresponds to the average ranking that participants attributed to each statement
(Thomas & Watson, 2002). The Q-sorting can be undertaken individually or as a group.
Q-methodology has been used very rarely in published human-carnivore
conflict research. Byrd (2002) used this method to analyse sets of beliefs about wolves
in Minnesota, whereas Chamberlain et al. (2012) utilised it to evaluate perceived
problems of bear mitigation strategies. This latter research noted that Q-methodology
was helpful to identify common perceptions amongst a wide range of stakeholders and
may have improved communication between conflicting groups (Chamberlain et al.,
2012). This method could be particularly applicable to the human dimensions of
carnivore research as it can help untangle complex phenomena where individuals hold
contrasting views (Barry & Proops, 1999). Another benefit of Q-methodology is that it
does not require a large sample size when compared with conventional questionnaire
studies (Stephenson, 1953). Furthermore, it combines the benefits of qualitative data
collection in the initial stages with quantitative data collection during the Q-sort to
allow for statistical analyses (Barry & Proops, 1999).
Q-sorts could, however, force respondents to place cards along the scale that
might not best represent their point of view. For instance, an individual may strongly
agree or disagree to many items in the Q-sort, but is forced to place the majority of
cards in the middle of the scale (McKeown & Thomas, 1988). This can be overcome by
relaxing the constraint of forcing a quasi-normal distribution for statement placement.
This method may be complicated for some participants to do and requires a
substantial amount of time to determine the statements to use and then for
participants to undertake the Q-sorts (Barry & Proops, 1999).
2.3.4 A Combined Approach?
In many instances, using a mixed-methods approach to research into or plan a
mitigation strategy for carnivore coexistence may be the most appropriate way
forward (White & Ward, 2011). This integrates the benefits of both qualitative and
quantitative aspects and has the capacity to yield the most internal and external
validity (Drury et al., 2011). One of the most thorough examples identified that
employs a mixed-methods approach to understand carnivore conflict is that described
in Monica Ogra’s paper, who looked into tiger conflict in India (Ogra, 2009). This
research used participant observation, individual interviewing, focus group
interviewing, participatory rural appraisal activities and questionnaires to understand
how locals would like an intervention scheme to be implemented. This gave the
researcher a broad understanding of potential mitigation strategies proposed by locals
and a deep comprehension of the reasons behind these choices (Ogra, 2009).
Qualitative methods can develop in-depth knowledge of specific instances of
human-carnivore coexistence, as well as provide a more general description when
used in conjunction quantitative methods. For example, Rigg (2004) used informal
qualitative interviews to understand from the herders’ perspectives how livestock
guarding dogs were used to mitigate depredation. He then combined these data with
quantitative field trials observing livestock guarding dogs working with the herd.
Harris (2011) also used informal interviews at the start of her research to guide
sampling and structure of later quantitative interviews when understanding human-
bear conflict. Future carnivore conflict research that aims to understand the breadth
and depth of the problem may benefit tremendously from a similar mixed-methods
Another potential mixed-methods approach could combine Q-methodology with
the Delphi technique to source expert opinion on a complex topic. These methods
were used in succession to explore the definition of a psychological therapy approach
(Wallis, Burns, & Capdevila, 2009) but have never been used together in decision
making for conservation problems. The benefits of this combination could firstly allow
for similarities and differences about a topic to be highlighted amongst a group of
people, and secondly explore the range of discourses of that topic (Wallis et al., 2009).
It may also provide a vehicle to show if agreement could be made amongst a wide
range of actors with diverse views, whilst also revealing the most and least suitable
management plans for each individual and/or group.
This research used a mixed-methods approach that integrated qualitative and
quantitative methods to understand both perceptions and framing of current conflict
with carnivores and proposed methods to mitigate this conflict. Because of the
difficultly in undertaking experiments in complex, real-life situations, a case study was
used that focused on an area of north-central Namibia. Initially, qualitative techniques
such as participant observation, unstructured and informal interviews were employed
via an inductive, interpretivist, grounded theory approach to gain a broad
understanding of the perceived causes of conflict and how conflict is mitigated. This
set the scene and helped to unravel concepts that were not previously regarded as
important. It also assisted with building rapport and trust with the local community.
Because Objective 1 in this study (to develop a participatory decision-making
technique to determine if stakeholders could reach agreement on how to manage
carnivores) focused more on understanding where consensus and disagreements lay, it
was deemed inappropriate to use RRA, PRA and PAR. Due to the limitations of MCA
for use in complex situations, a combination of Q-methodology and the Delphi
technique was chosen to answer Objective 1 using a positivist paradigm.
Because Objective 2 (to understand how the media framed financial incentives to
mitigate human-carnivore conflict) had a clear research question that aimed to look at
the framing of financial incentives in the Namibian media, it was deemed most
appropriate to use quantitative content analysis via a deductive, positivist paradigm.
For Objective 3 (to determine if there were any underlying socio-economic
causes of human-carnivore conflict on commercial livestock farms), unstructured,
semi-structured and informal methods following a grounded theory approach were
most suitable techniques due to their qualitative and exploratory nature that
compliments the goal of this objective. This is also why questionnaires were not be
used for this objective. An interpretivist paradigm was employed. For more
information on the details of each method, please refer to the following three data
This study adhered to the University of Kent ethical procedure and underwent
approval within the School of Anthropology and Conservation’s ethical committee
before data collection commenced. There are some potential ethical challenges when
carrying out a social science study on sensitive topics, such as participants admitting to
killing protected wildlife species. As such, every effort was taken to ensure that any
sensitive data were collected, analysed and discussed in a manner that would not
incriminate the participant. I ensured that interviews took place privately away from
others who might be able to see or hear the conversation. This was to protect the
potentially sensitive information that some participants may have revealed during the
Informed consent was obtained from participants prior to each interview. Consent
was obtained firstly by explaining the purpose of the study, then explaining how the
interview data would be used and finally asking if they would be happy to participate.
A copy of this information was given to each participant in a written report and all
participants signed a consent form. Interviews were recorded on a Dictaphone and,
before each interview commenced, participants were asked whether they were happy
for the interview to be recorded. Recordings were then transferred onto a computer,
where files were named by the participant’s code rather than their name. Data on the
Dictaphone were then erased. This process was to ensure that if the data were to be
discovered by another person then there would be no way of knowing who the
participants in the recordings were. Quotes from the participants used in this thesis
were attributed via participant codes rather than their names to ensure anonymity.
During the process of offering informed consent, participants were assured that their
interview would remain confidential as only I would know who had taken part in the
Conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers affects human livelihoods and
predator populations. Historically, successful mitigation of this conflict has been
limited, sometimes due to a lack of participation among stakeholders to create and
implement agreeable and effective solutions. Finding common ground between
stakeholders can, however, be difficult, partly because of the range and intensity of
values held. Using a novel combination of Q-methodology and the Delphi technique,
this research determined whether a diverse range of stakeholders could reach
agreement on how to mitigate conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers in
Namibia. A strong consensus was reached on using conservation education and
husbandry training to reduce livestock depredation. Two narratives also emerged: one
group preferred non-lethal methods to manage this conflict, whereas a smaller group
preferred lethal measures. This new decision-making exercise has highlighted
commonalities and differences between stakeholder views and has the potential to be
applied to other conservation conflicts to assist with participatory decision-making.
Keywords: decision making, Delphi, human-wildlife conflict, policy making, Q-
The real and perceived conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers threatens
endangered predator populations and farmer livelihoods (Loveridge, Wang, Frank, &
Seidensticker, 2010; Rust & Marker, 2014). This conflict is difficult to resolve partly
because of the complex social disagreements on governance options and goals (Clark,
Rutherford, & Mattson, 2014). To effectively reduce this problem requires not only
focusing on mitigating conflict between people and predators, but also between
different groups of people (Madden & McQuinn, 2014; Redpath, Bhatia, et al., 2015).
Historically, national conservation of endangered species such as carnivores has
been largely managed in a top-down manner by government agencies and non-
governmental organisations (NGOs), with little participation from the local
communities that were affected by these decisions (Brockington, 2002). This lack of
participation can create tensions between stakeholders over their conflicting values
and ideas on how to effectively mitigate the situation (Thirgood & Redpath, 2008). For
example, lions Panthera leo were killed by Maasai pastoralists because they believed
that their opinions were not considered when a livestock depredation compensation
scheme was initiated (Goldman et al., 2013). It is thus seen as increasingly important
for wildlife managers to cooperate with the communities that share land with wildlife
and to involve their suggestions in management decisions, however difficult this may
be. Participation has the potential to foster more amicable relations between all
parties, which, when conducted correctly, has the ability to create a more socially
accepted and sustainable management plan (Clark, Rutherford, & Casey, 2005; Jackson
& Wangchuk, 2004; Kittinger, Bambico, Watson, & Glazier, 2012).
This study focuses on Namibia, where carnivore populations have been
increasing in recent decades, causing more frequent livestock depredation (NACSO,
2013; Naidoo, Weaver, De Longcamp, & Du Plessis, 2011). This conflict requires
immediate attention to ensure minimal damage to farmer livelihoods and to recently-
restored carnivore populations. Official management of human-wildlife conflict8 in
Namibia is overseen by the government (Government of Namibia, 2009), but this
national policy focuses almost exclusively on communal farmers who live on
government land, whilst largely ignoring freehold commercial farmers (Government of
Namibia, 2009). Because of this skewed governance, it is legal for commercial farmers
to kill carnivores on their land if deemed a threat to human life or property
(Government of Namibia, 1975). Historically, farmers killed at least half of the national
population of cheetahs (Marker-Kraus & Kraus, 1997) and nearly eradicated African
wild dogs (Scheepers & Venzke, 1995).
Previous research in countries outside of Namibia that have used participatory
decision-making to manage predators have sometimes noted a lack of common
8 The term “human-wildlife conflict” is used here rather than conservation conflict because this is the
official term used by the Government of Namibia (2009)
ground between stakeholder groups (Johnson & Sciascia, 2013; Mattson, Byrd,
Rutherford, Brown, & Clark, 2006; Redpath et al., 2004). This lack of agreement could
stall management progress or inflame conflicts between groups. Namibia is no
exception, where differing opinions from stakeholders on managing this problem
complicate the issue (Mosimane, McCool, Brown, & Ingrebretson, 2013; Rust, 2015;
Schumann et al., 2008). As many carnivore species range far wider than individual
farm boundaries, it is essential that a suitable plan be implemented for managing
these species on commercial land in Namibia to ensure effective landscape-scale
This study used a novel participatory decision-making exercise that combined
Q-methodology and the Delphi technique to determine: a) whether a diverse group of
stakeholders could agree on the most acceptable and effective ways to mitigate
human-carnivore conflict on commercial livestock farms in Namibia, and b) whether
there were separate groups of participants who had similar or conflicting viewpoints
on preferred management plans. The results can be used by policy makers to help
build positive relationships between stakeholders if common ground is discovered
between conflicting groups. It may also be useful as a step towards creating a socially-
accepted mitigation scheme that will help reduce conflict for both humans and
3.3.1 The Decision-Making Technique
This study employed an innovative combination of the Delphi technique and Q-
methodology. The Delphi technique is a systematic iterative process of decision
making where experts can form consensus on how to tackle a complex problem
(Dalkey, 1972). The main benefits of using this rather than other participatory
decision-making tools is that the exercise is completed anonymously, which can
improve honest discussion, lower inhibitions (Hess & King, 2002) and reduce power
differentials between participants (Dalkey, 1972). The iterative nature allows
participants the potential to learn from others through their different experiences,
values and interests, possibly creating a more informed decision (Hung, Altschuld, &
Lee, 2008). This engagement could also break down barriers between stakeholders
involved in conflict situations if the outcome shows that different groups potentially
hold similar views to their own. Delphi is often used when cost, geographic and time
constraints mean that face-to-face meetings are difficult (Ziglio, 1996). Lastly, the
method aims to ensure that all major options are considered and examined in terms of
their acceptability (Ziglio, 1996).
Q-methodology is a structured quantitative interview where participants are
asked to rank-order predefined statements on a scale dependent upon their
agreement with the statements (Brown, 1980; Stephenson, 1953). It “considers
people as whole entities and correlates individuals instead of traits” (Byrd, 2002: 52).
This technique is particularly suited when studying complex phenomena and where
individuals hold contrasting views (Barry & Proops, 1999) and has the ability to reveal
areas of statistical consensus and disagreements, as well as uncover unanticipated
narratives (Brown, 1980). Consequently, it could be beneficial to use when
understanding heterogeneous stakeholder views on human-wildlife conflict (Johnson
& Sciascia, 2013). Indeed it has been recently employed to understand carnivore
conservation in India (Rastogi, Hickey, Badola, & Hussain, 2013), Canada (Chamberlain,
2006) and the US (Johnson & Sciascia, 2013). It does not require a large sample size
when compared with conventional questionnaires, as participants are chosen based
upon reaching theoretical saturation on the possible ranges of views on a topic
(Stephenson, 1953). This does mean that external validity cannot be conferred; the
aim of Q-methodology, however, is to determine the range rather than the frequency
of views (Johnson & Sciascia, 2013).
As the Delphi technique does not seek to address the subjectivity in decision
making, it could be useful to combine with Q-methodology. This blend would give rise
to a participatory decision-making tool that includes group feedback and repeated
rounds with the ability to show areas of statistical consensuses and disagreements,
and/or different narratives on solving the problem. Furthermore, deliberation and
feedback of results could lead to a more holistic and rational decision, rather than
quick, instinctive choices that might not have fully considered all available options and
outcomes (Dalkey, Brown, & Cochran, 1969).
3.3.2 Q-Methodology Statement Collection
Q-methodology requires an initial data collection period to develop the
“concourse”, i.e. the diversity of views on a phenomenon that will be used for the Q-
sort statements. Content analysis of Namibian newspapers was used to collect some
of the concourse statements on the types of mitigation techniques used to reduce
conflict with carnivores and livestock farmers in the country. Five of the most popular
English-speaking9 newspapers were used here: Informante, The Namibian, Namibia
Economist, Namibian Sun and New Era. The searches were performed between
January and February 2013 and included articles dating as far back as to 2004. Articles
were screened by searching for the keywords “carnivore”, “predator”, “human-wildlife
conflict” and “depredation”. Content analysis was also used to identify the main
stakeholder groups involved in Namibian carnivore management. This helped inform
later sampling for the Delphi/Q to ensure that the sample was representative.
Stakeholders identified here were academics, conservationists, farmers, government
officials, the meat industry, tourism operators and trophy hunters.
In addition to content analysis, interviews were used to collect additional
concourse statements and were conducted August-September 2013 with 45
participants including 22 farmers, 7 conservationists, 5 government officials, 4 tourism
operators, 3 landowners offering trophy hunting, 2 meat industry workers and 2
academics. A semi-structured format was used and interviews were conducted in
English lasting approximately one hour. Questions related to how participants would
like to manage carnivores on Namibian commercial farmland, what methods they
thought were and were not effective, and what methods they would recommend
In total, 50 statements on how to mitigate conflict between carnivores and
livestock in Namibia were collected from the interviews and 78 were collected from
newspaper articles. These statements were refined to 34 by deleting duplicates and
combining those that were similar. These final statements were the concourse to be
used in the subsequent Q-methodology (listed in Table 1), which retained the original
wording as closely as possible to capture the intent of the source (Rastogi et al., 2013).
9 English is the national language of Namibia
3.3.3 Sampling
Respondents from both the statement collection and the Q/Delphi rounds were
sourced by attending various farming and conservation events and rural social
activities in the study area. As random sampling is not necessary for either Delphi or Q
(Brown, 1980; Skulmoski & Hartman, 2007), participants were purposefully sampled to
ensure diverse representation across all stakeholder groups. They were also chosen to
represent the range of possible views of mitigating conflict, from the anti- to the pro-
carnivore (Brown, 1980). Snowball sampling was used to increase the sample size and
ensure theoretical saturation.
A total of 54 potential participants were contacted via email10 to request for
participation in the Q/Delphi exercise. These included all individuals that had
participated in the initial interview as well as those who had been gathered through
purposeful and snowball sampling. Thirty-five participants (the P-set) completed the
first online survey (66% response rate) including 14 livestock farmers, 6
conservationists, 6 landowners offering trophy hunting, 5 meat industry employees, 2
tourism operators and 2 environmental academics. Emphasis was placed on recruiting
livestock farmers because it is this stakeholder group that has overriding power to
manage carnivores on commercial farmland. The same 35 participants were then sent
the same Delphi survey one month later, of which 32 completed the survey; 29 of the
35 completed the third and final survey one month after the second survey. Of the 29,
11 were farmers, 6 were conservationists, 5 were landowners offering trophy hunting,
4 were meat employees, 2 were tourism operators and 1 was an environmental
3.3.4 Q-Sort
A Q-sort refers to the participant-ranked concourse statements. An online survey tool,
SurveyMonkey, was used to administer the Q-sort. A pilot of the Q/Delphi survey was
administered prior to implementation to 8 volunteers (4 within and 4 external to the
10 Internet connection is available across much of Namibia, including in rural areas. Almost all
commercial farmers are computer literate as they are required to keep accurate computer databases of
their livestock. It was therefore assumed that no participant would be prohibited from participating
because of the format of the survey being via the Internet.
study site) to determine the ease of completing the survey, whether the statements
were clear and whether the instructions were comprehensible.
In the survey, participants were asked to rank each mitigation method on a 7-
point scale ranging from -3 (strongly disagree) to 3 (strongly agree), with 0 being
neutral/don’t know. Participants were asked: “Please rate the following statements
dependent upon whether you agree or disagree that the proposed action would be an
acceptable and effective method to reduce conflict between carnivores and livestock
on commercial farms in Namibia”. At the end of each survey, participants were asked
why they chose the statements that they strongly agreed or disagreed with (Brown,
1980). This was to gain information on the subjective reasoning behind participants’
selections. Participants were also asked at the end of the first round to recommend
any suggestions that should be implemented in the subsequent rounds, such as
additional statements to be included, changes to the format or layout, or clearer
instructions. Two further statements (statements 35 and 36 in Table 1) were included
in the subsequent rounds due to the suggestions made by participants.
3.3.5 Delphi
Each Q-sort was conducted monthly in three iterations between October-
December 2013. At the end of each round, an email was sent to participants listing the
three most and least popular statements from that round, which acted as part of the
Delphi informed feedback. To understand why participants may have changed their
ranking between rounds, participants who changed their ranking of a statement by
more than 2 points (e.g. from -3 to 0) between the rounds were asked after
completion for their reason(s) for this change.
3.3.6 Analyses
The program PQMethod version 2.33 (Schmolck 2002) was used to run the Q-sort
analysis, which determined firstly whether agreement was reached between
participants on any of the proposed mitigation measures and secondly whether there
were groups of participants who ranked statements in a statistically similar manner.
Initially, the data were run through a Principle Components Analysis (PCA) to calculate
whether there were heavily loaded “factors”, i.e. groups of participants who ranked
statements similarly (Buckley, 2012). These factors were then put through a Varimax
rotation, which determined the most parsimonious structure that explained the
highest variability between factor groups (Brown, 1980). PQMethod arranged the Q-
sorts into the factors that were most correlated. Factors with Eigenvalues greater than
1 (Webler, Danielson, & Tuler, 2009) were put into a factor analysis. Then each
statement was given a z-score in PQMethod based on the average rank provided by
participants within that factor. Statistical consensus was defined in factor analysis
where p > 0.01, i.e. groups of participants did not rank statements differently at the
99% confidence level. For the statements that were statistically consensual, a strong
agreement was defined where the average rank between factors was at least +2 or -
Quantitative data from the Q-method and qualitative data from the open-
ended questions posed at the end of each survey were used collectively to describe a
narrative for each factor group. In particular, statements that received the highest and
lowest z-scores and that had statistical agreements and disagreements between factor
groups were described using responses to the open-ended questions (Webler et al.,
2009). The resulting narratives are a product of a holistic analysis of these data (Neff &
Larson, 2014).
3.4.1 Overview
Overall, the three Delphi rounds showed agreement by participants that human-
carnivore conflict could be mitigated firstly by training farm workers in effective
husbandry that could deter predators from livestock and secondly by teaching people
about wildlife conservation and the value of predators (Table 1). Participants also
agreed that conflict would not be resolved by reducing wild meat consumption.
Despite this common ground, Q-methodology found two “factors” (or
narratives) in each Delphi round (Table 1). Through each round, these two narratives
remained largely unchanged: some participants (factors A, C, E in Table 1) preferred
non-lethal methods (statements 10, 16 and 30) to mitigate conflict; this is therefore
called the “non-lethal narrative”. Conversely, other participants preferred lethal
11 This was to differentiate consensual statements where participants agreed on a more neutral stance
on a statement, e.g. agreed that they did not know or only slightly agree/disagreed with the statement.
methods (factors B, D, F; statements 7, 23 and 26); this latter group is therefore called
the “lethal narrative”. Those falling into the non-lethal narrative also remained
consistently negative on lethal methods and livestock breeding replacement
(statements 7, 21, 27 and 34). The lethal narrative, however, had participants who
remained consistently negative on economic incentives and changing from small stock
to cattle farming (statements 15, 19, 24, 25 and 32). In general, the non-lethal
narrative consisted of conservationists, academics, trophy hunters and cattle farmers,
whereas the lethal narrative included sheep farmers and meat industry employees. In
the first round, 51% of livestock farmers loaded onto the non-lethal narrative but by
the final round, this increased to 63%.
During the second round, 95% of participants either strongly or somewhat
agreed with the two consensus statements on education and husbandry; by the final
round, this was 91%. Delphi rounds improved agreement between participants for the
most and least preferred statements (Fig. 3). Whilst Fig. 3 shows the least popular
statements as being killing all predators that entered the farm and only allowing
predators in protected areas, these did not confer statistical consensus because there
were a number of participants who continually did not disagree with these methods.
3.4.2 Round 1
Factor analysis of Round 1 produced two factors that explained 51% of the
variance (38% for factor A and 13% for factor B). The statements, their relative
weighting and the areas of agreements and disagreements are shown in Table 1.
Participants in factor A (the non-lethal narrative) were defined by agreeing with
statements that improved livestock husbandry (statements 4, 13, 30) and disagreeing
that predators should only survive in protected areas (statement 34). Conversely,
participants in factor B (the lethal narrative) were critical of solutions that involved
allowing carnivores to live on farms (statements 24 and 25) and agreed with
consumptive use of carnivores (statements 3, 23, 26) but disagreed with changing
livestock management practices (statements 13, 22, 33). A strong agreement was
made between participants in Round 1 on statements 11 (training farm workers on
how to look after livestock when predators were present) and 16 (teaching people
about ecology and the value of predators) as the most acceptable methods to resolve
Figure 3. The three most and least popular consensus statements between Delphi
rounds 1-3 with corresponding percentage of participants who strongly agreed to each
conflict. Statements 18 (reduce wild meat consumption), 25 (pay farmers for the
number of predators on their farm) and 27 (have a livestock replacement centre)
showed agreement between the factors that these methods would not reduce conflict.
3.4.3 Round 2
Factor analysis of data from Round 2 produced two factors that explained 45% of the
variance (35% on Factor C, 10% on Factor D). Factor C (the non-lethal narrative)
participants voted in favour of price premiums on predator-friendly meats (statement
4), whereas factor D (the lethal narrative) participants voted against this. Participants
loading on to both factors were more positive of piloting a predator-friendly farm
(statement 29) when compared with Round 1, although the non-lethal narrative were
consistently more positive of this method than the lethal narrative through the three
rounds. A strong agreement was reached on the same statements as in Round 1, but
this round showed less negative views on paying for the number of predators on farms
(statement 25).
3.4.4 Round 3
Factor analysis of Round 3 again produced two factors that explained 57% of the
variance (47% on Factor E, 10% on Factor F). A strong agreement was reached by the
two factors with statements 11 (training farm workers in more effective husbandry)
and 16 (teaching people about conservation and value of predators), and disagreeing
with statement 18 (reducing wild meat consumption) as effective and acceptable ways
to mitigate conflict.
3.4.5 Participants’ reasoning behind their answers
The comments given by participants at the end of each round helped to explain their
subjective reasoning behind the way in which they ranked statements. Education in
predator conservation and training on livestock husbandry were thought by many
participants to be the most effective ways to mitigate conflict because “only if you
know enough about nature you can react against it” – cattle and sheep farmer, CS2.
Participants were against the idea of reducing game meat consumption to increase
wild prey for carnivores, as they believed that “wild meat feeds the nation” – cattle
farmer, CT9.
In general, participants were very critical of compensation payments, as they
questioned “who will finance compensation for killed livestock? Sounds good, but who
has the money and will be willing to administrate it on a sustainable basis?” – cattle
farmer, CT3. Participants also did not like the idea of a government-run livestock
replacement centre as the government “will not breed what I want and animals might
be less adapted” – cattle farmer, CT6. Furthermore, participants thought that the
government should not be involved in managing economic incentives: “I do not believe
that any (governmental) interventions into private business (=livestock farming) will
work out as administration and control thereof will be too complicated and also some
farmers will try to screw the system to earn extra money” – sheep farmer, SF2.
Most participants in the non-lethal narrative, which included many of the
farmers, appeared to show some tolerance towards predators. For example, they
often mentioned that predators should not be eliminated because they “are part of
nature and the ecology and have a definitive place therein” – cattle farmer, CT7 and
“are essential in the food chain” – cattle farmer, CT1. Additionally, participants in this
narrative often did not value economic incentives (“I do not always agree that money
solves the problems” – tourism operator, TO2) but believed that conflict could only be
reduced through education: “most problems occur because lack of knowledge. Only
knowledge can improve management” – cattle farmer, CT10. They often thought that
economic incentives were a short-term fix, but not a long-term solution.
Conversely, the lethal narrative believed culling predators was important
because carnivores “need to be controlled especially those who kill livestock” – cattle
and sheep farmer CS1. This narrative was defined by participants that were critical of
changing management practices because these suggestions were thought to be
unfeasible: “it is no solution to highly restrict (the way of) livestock farming or make it
impossible” - sheep farmer (SF1). Herding, for example, was not considered practical
because it has “major rangeland impacts” – trophy hunter, TH2. This narrative
conveyed being in favour of ensuring predators remained only in protected areas:
“There is enough land in Namibia for predators, why must the commercial farmers also
keep them?” – cattle farmer, CT3.
Participants loading into this factor also thought that it made sense to receive income
from killing predators, as this could offset the cost of depredation: “Reimbursing
farmers who have losses due predators is very good and through trophy [hunting]
some funds can be generated” – meat board employee, MB2.
Seventeen respondents were emailed regarding why they changed the ranking
on some statements over the rounds and all replied. They explained their reasoning
for their change in ranking through one or more of the following four themes: giving
the topic and statements deeper consideration (n=11), finding additional information
between rounds (n=5), being provided with the results from the previous round (n=4),
or due to a recent experience (n=3).
Table 1. Q-sort statements during Delphi rounds, with corresponding z-scores (underlined font reflect areas of statistical consensus; * denotes
significant difference between both factor groups)
number Statement to mitigate conflict between large carnivores and livestock farmers Round 1 z score Round 2 z score Round 3 z score
A, n=24 B, n=11 C, n=19 D, n=11 E, n=21 F, n=6
1 Compensate farmers for full value of livestock killed by predators -1* 0 -2 -1 -2 -1
2 Promote photo tourism as a way to receive income from predators 1* 0 1* 0 1* -1
3 Promote trophy hunting of predators as a way to be reimbursed for livestock loss -1* 2 -1 0 0 0
Farmers should receive a price premium if meat is farmed in a "predator
friendly" way
Use profits from nature reserve
s and Game Trust Fund to fund management of predators in nearby
areas 0 1 0 0 0 -1
6 Count livestock often for human presence to deter predators and also to find lost livestock 3 1 1 1 0* 2
7 Kill predators that kill livestock -2* 3 -2* 3 -2* 3
8 Properly fence national parks and hunting reserves to stop predators from escaping 0 0 0* 2 1 1
9 Monitor numbers of predators to set more accurate hunting quotas 2 1 1* 2 1 0
10 Use livestock guarding animals to protect stock from predators 2 1 2 1 2 1
ain farm workers on how to protect livestock from predators and how to improve livestock
management 3 2 3 3 3 3
12 Zone areas where conflict is highest, and target with mitigation measures 1* 3 0* 1 0 1
Put livestock in kraals overnight to protect fro
m predators and always keep vulnerable livestock in
kraals 1* -1 1* -1 1* -2
14 Employ herders to protect livestock from predators 1* 0 1 0 2 1
Pay out insurance claims for killed livestock to people who have taken active steps to avoid
depredation 1* -1 1* -1 0* -1
16 Teach people about conservation, ecology, value of predators and livestock kill identification 3 2 3 2 3 2
17 Allow sale of captured problem predators to nature reserves and zoos 0 1 0* 1 0 0
18 Reduce consumption of wild meat to increase wild prey for predators -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -3
19 Change from small stock to cattle farming in areas with many small predators -1* -3 -1* -3 -1* -2
20 Install predator-proof fencing around grazing camps -2* 1 -1* 1 -1* 0
21 Kill all predators that enter farm -3* -1 -3* -2 -3* 0
22 Use indigenous breeds of livestock with horns to protect themselves from predators 0* -2 0 0 1 1
23 Allow restricted hunting of problem lions and wild dogs 0* 2 0* 1 0* 2
24 Keep a couple of large predators on a farm to control jackal and caracal population 0* -3 -1* -2 -1* -2
25 Pay farmers for the number of predators they have on their farm (more predators = more money) -2* -3 -1* -2 -1* -3
26 Allow sale of skin of hunted problem predator to reimburse for loss of livestock -1* 3 -1* 2 -1* 2
27 Have a government-run livestock breeding centre to replace predator-killed livestock -3 -2 -2 -3 -2 -1
28 Reward farmers when they have no livestock loss or use predator-friendly methods 0* -1 0* -1 0 0
29 Pilot a predator-friendly farm to train farmers how to coexist with predators 1* -1 2* 1 2* -1
Employ “environmental shepherds” who not only look after livestock but also monitor for poaching,
cattle theft and wildlife numbers 2* 0 2* 0 2 1
31 Put radio collars on predators; if they are proven to kill stock, kill that animal -1 0 -1 -1 -1 0
32 Provide subsidies to farmers who kraal calves/kids/lambs or use herders -1 -1 0* -1 -1* -2
Move mother livestock with young to areas without predators and swap for farms who have a
males in areas with good grazing but no predators 0* -2 0 0 0 0
Only allow predators to survive in protected areas
35 Use high-density herds & move them frequently - - 0 0 0* 1
36 Improve habitat for game to thrive so predators prefer to kill wild game - - 1 0 1* -1
The results of this research suggest that stakeholders agreed on some techniques to
reduce human-carnivore conflict in Namibia. In particular, common ground was found
between participants where they believed training farm workers in better livestock
husbandry and teaching people about carnivores could reduce conflict. These
statements could have been chosen as they adhere to the status quo (Peterson,
Peterson, & Peterson, 2005). It is unlikely that this is the reason for the consensus
because information from the concourse interviews and data from Chapter 5
highlighted farmers as being very aware of the lack of skills that farm workers had,
particularly in regard to how to protect livestock from predators. Furthermore, farm
workers in Namibia tend to be from poor backgrounds with limited education (Hunter,
2004b) therefore it is possible that education into effective husbandry will benefit the
situation (see Chapter 5). Indeed, previous research has shown that increased
knowledge of carnivores and livestock husbandry practices can improve tolerance and
reduce livestock depredation on Namibian farms (Rust & Marker, forthcoming).
Along with a consensus on how conflict should be mitigated, there was also
agreement on how it should not be managed, i.e. through reducing wild prey
consumption. This statement was initially suggested as it could increase wild game
availability for carnivores thereby potentially limiting livestock depredation (Inskip &
Zimmermann, 2009). The opposition to this idea may be because wild meat was seen
as a benefit that the majority of Namibians received, which, as one participant
mentioned, helped to “feed the nation” – CT9. Wild meat is used as part-payment for
salaries for farm workers and nature reserve employees in the form of rations and it
also has huge cultural value attached to it (Botha, 2005; Karamata, 2006). It may
therefore not be culturally or economically feasible to introduce this mitigation
method in Namibia.
Interestingly, this study has shown more areas of consensus between predator
management stakeholder groups than other similar studies (e.g. Chamberlain,
Rutherford, & Gibeau, 2012; Johnson & Sciascia, 2013; Redpath et al., 2004), although
there were still two distinct narratives, with most sheep farmers still preferring lethal
control, although noting that there were still two distinct narratives, with most sheep
farmers still preferring lethal control. It is not clear why this is the case, but potentially
it could be that conflict between stakeholders is less heated in Namibia than elsewhere
in the world (or that this particular method helped to reduce conflict). This lower
conflict could be an important ingredient in creating positive collaborations between
stakeholder groups on collectively managing carnivores nationally. Conversely,
another reason why there was more agreement in this study than others could be that
those that were more susceptible to changing their mind towards the social norm may
have increased the apparent agreement in Rounds 2 and 3. It is unclear whether this
happened in this case, particularly as the exercise was conducted anonymously
therefore participants were not aware as to whom they were agreeing with.
Despite there being areas of agreement between stakeholders, this study has
shown two different viewpoints on how to improve human-carnivore coexistence on
livestock farms. However, the divide was not as simple as conservationists preferring
non-lethal solutions and farmers preferring lethal control. On the contrary, by the end
of the Delphi rounds, two-thirds of livestock farmers opposed lethal control, which is in
contrast to other research that revealed that farmers had a high willingness to kill
carnivores (Romañach, Lindsey, & Woodroffe, 2007; Schumann et al., 2008). It is
unclear why this is the case here, particularly as the survey was undertaken
anonymously so there was no pressure for participants to conform to social norms
(Dalkey, 1972; White, 2000). It could be that longstanding education on carnivores
within the area has slowly improved attitudes and behaviour to predators (Marker et
al., 2003) or that the sample size was too small to notice negative attitudes towards
carnivores. This result also confirms Chamberlain and colleague’s study (2012) that it
should not be assumed that individuals within one stakeholder group hold uniform
opinions on wildlife management (i.e. that all farmers are anti-carnivore) but rather
the difference of opinions are more complex and indeed common ground can be found
between different stakeholder groups.
For the smaller “lethal narrative”, management changes on the farm were not
considered potential solutions to this conflict. Conforti & Azevedo (2003) also found
that some farmers were unwilling to improve their husbandry practices to reduce
depredation. Farmers in general are risk averse and do not tend to change their
management unless absolutely necessary (Binswanger & Sillers, 1983). It may
therefore be inappropriate to advise conservative farmers on changing their
management, as this could be considered culturally inappropriate.
In this study, economic incentives were not a preferred conflict mitigation
method, particularly those run by the government, as participants feared corruption
and incompetence, mirroring previous findings (Dickman et al., 2011; Rust, 2015).
Photographic tourism was also not considered by both groups to be effective at
reducing conflict, especially those in the lethal control narrative. One of the reasons
for this was that participants felt it was too difficult to ensure that guests could
successfully view carnivores as they are naturally rare and illusive. There was also
concern about having strangers descend upon farms, which could affect some of the
farmers’ desire for peace and solitude. More deeply, this may show that money may
not be the sole motivating factor in decision making; indeed, as previous research has
shown, happiness depends on many other values besides monetary wealth (Myers &
Diener, 1996).
The majority of participants in this study were persistently against the idea of
paying farmers for the number of predators on their land – a scheme similar to the
Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) initiative in Sweden (Zabel & Holm-Muller,
2008). This was because participants believed that it would be very difficult to manage
and audit, as has been suggested elsewhere (Nelson, 2009). Farmers thought that
paying for carnivore presence may increase conflict with neighbouring farmers that
were not part of the scheme, as individual carnivores could roam on bordering farms,
potentially causing problems there. Such a PES scheme may not be widely accepted in
Namibia because of this potential problem with neighbouring farms. One solution
could be to pay groups of neighbouring landowners, but this itself brings problems,
such as ensuring equal benefit distribution (Nelson, 2009). The resistance to this idea
may be due to the fact that farmers tend to be risk-averse and therefore reluctant to
try new things. One potential way to overcome this challenge could be to find “local
champions” – respected individuals within the community that are seen as role models
for farmers. Targeting these champions as the first farmers to try out new ideas
increases the credibility of the scheme and also improves its uptake and commitment
amongst locals (Knight, Cowling, Difford, & Campbell, 2010).
Despite agreement on a number of mitigation measures, their implementation
may not result in eradicating conflict between livestock farmers and carnivores (and
this study did not aim to find a solution). One participant stated that the “one size fits
all solutions have always been costly and unsustainable. I strongly agreed to have
many diversified creative ways how to mitigate losses which is more sustainable than
looking for the silver bullet” (EA1). Indeed, this research has shown that despite there
being common ground between stakeholders on what actions to take to improve
coexistence, there were still a number of participants who did not agree with the
consensus. Unless they also feel that their views are addressed, they may rebel
against a mitigation scheme, which could have serious consequences on the future of
carnivore conservation (Hazzah et al., 2014; Turnbull, Cain, & Roemer, 2013). It may
well be that lethal control is still included as part of a conflict mitigation scheme,
particularly for small stock farmers managing non-threatened but potentially highly-
damaging species such as jackals and caracals.
The main reason why participants changed their voting through the Delphi
rounds was due to giving the exercise deeper consideration. Furthermore, a higher
proportion of participants agreed with the most popular mitigation methods in later
rounds compared with earlier rounds. These are important points, as they
demonstrate that initial survey responses might not always be accurate, as they could
reflect a rushed decision that had not been thoroughly thought through. It may be
crucial, therefore, that additional rounds of questioning be given to decision makers
when changing or initiating management plans. Contrary to results found by
Dijksterhuis et al. (2006), deliberation could give participants space and time to reach a
more deeply considered conclusion over a complex problem (O’Riordan & Stoll-
Kleemann, 2002).
One limitation to this study is that the remote interaction of the survey
participants might not provide sufficient opportunity for participants to engage with
each other to learn about each other’s viewpoints (Ziglio, 1996). Furthermore,
emotional attachment and empathy are important parts of decision making
(Wieczorek Hudenko, 2012) but difficult to achieve when negotiations are conducted
remotely. The lack of face-to-face communication may have constrained decision
making as there was limited chance for social learning (although this exercise was
purposefully remote with the aim of reducing face-to-face conflict and power
differentials). It is therefore recommended that participants attend a workshop at or
after the final round to facilitate communication between participants. A further
limitation to this study is the small and non-random sampling therefore conclusions do
not necessarily reflect the views of the wider public. Although this was not the goal of
the present study, if the aim is to allow the general public to reach agreement on how
to manage carnivores, this survey should be repeated on a much larger scale using
random sampling in order for a more representative understanding the situation. In a
large consensus building exercise in the US to determine the acceptable management
solutions for beavers, researchers found similar results to this thesis, i.e. the 1,204
landowners agreed that education into how to coexist with beavers was the most
acceptable method and lethal control the least acceptable (Morzillo & Needham,
2015). This may suggest that even on a larger, randomly sampled population,
landowners may prefer non-lethal methods to coexist with wild animals compared
with lethal methods. Conversely, this result could also suggest that education is the
most socially accepted solution, but may not imply that it is the most effective at
improving coexistence between people and wildlife.
In summary, combining Delphi and Q-methodology to understand whether
stakeholders could agree on how to mitigate carnivore conflict on commercial farms in
Namibia has provided new insight into the thoughts and reasoning behind stakeholder
views on this topic. It has discovered common ground in potential management
policies, as well as areas of disagreement. This novel method could be used in other
areas of participatory decision-making for wildlife management to legitimise the
process and reduce past, current and future conflicts between groups due in part to
the anonymity of the process. Indeed, the fact that the technique required
participants to interact remotely was likely a key ingredient in ensuring that conflict
between stakeholders did not hinder the process. Previous research on decision
making has found that face-to-face disagreements between participants created
obstacles to making an agreeable decision (Susskind, van der Wansem, & Ciccareli,
2003). It may therefore be important for participants to reach agreement remotely, at
least during the first few rounds. The suggested mitigation methods discovered in this
study can be used as starting points to help build a socially-accepted carnivore
management plan that will assist in reducing conflict for both humans and carnivores
in Namibia.
The decline in global carnivore populations can be exacerbated by lethal methods used
to reduce livestock depredation. Financial mechanisms are designed to limit lethal
control of carnivores by reducing the cost of depredation. The media can affect how
the general public feel about issues like financial mechanisms but no study has been
undertaken to understand the framing of this topic in the media. The following
chapter filled this gap by using content analysis of newspapers to analyse economic
incentives designed to improve human-carnivore coexistence in Namibia. Forty-six
percent of the articles were framed positively towards incentives, 24% ambivalently,
19% negatively and 11% neutrally. Compensation was commonly framed positively
whereas community-based conservation, trophy hunting and tourism were framed
ambivalently. Incentives were framed more negatively where perceived costs
outweighed benefits. Environmental NGOs dominated coverage of incentives and may
have biased the reporting of this topic. These results can help conservationists plan
more effective communication interventions and can also assist with anticipating
issues that can affect the success of mitigation strategies.
Keywords: carnivore conservation, compensation, economic incentives, human-wildlife
conflict, trophy hunting.
In southern Africa, where many people live below the poverty line, carnivores can
severely affect the economic stability of households as these species predate upon
valuable livestock. This can cause financial ruin if there is no alternative income
available (Rust & Marker, 2014). Techniques that reduce the likelihood of carnivore
predation on livestock have therefore been implemented and can range from the
lethal to non-lethal (reviewed in Linnell, Smith, Odden, Swenson, & Kaczensky, 1996).
Lethal techniques can provide short-term relief from depredation but their widespread
application is not always conducive to sustainable management of threatened
carnivore species (Treves & Naughton-Treves, 2005), thus effective non-lethal
alternatives are often sought (Sillero-Zubiri & Laurenson, 2001). For example, financial
mechanisms aim to reduce the financial burden that carnivores place on livestock
farmers (Dickman et al., 2011). Compensation, a type of financial incentive, directly
pays farmers for livestock reportedly killed by carnivores (Ogada, Woodroffe, Oguge, &
Frank, 2003), whereas photographic tourism, a different incentive, could provide
income to locals by tourists paying to see wild carnivores (Stander, //au, Jui, Dabe, &
Dabe, 1997). Regardless of the mechanism, the goal is to increase the value of
carnivores so that, on the whole, the species is worth more alive than dead to the
people who live alongside them (Dickman et al., 2011; Nelson, 2009).
Although global carnivore conservation efforts follow broadly similar methods,
specific applications vary depending upon local circumstances. Namibia, for example,
has increasing carnivore populations (NACSO, 2013), partly because the country has a
large geographic area under wildlife conservation (NACSO, 2013). As such, a variety of
different financial mechanisms are employed to increase the benefits of living with
carnivores while decreasing their costs (Table 2).
Whilst not strictly a financial incentive itself, the Namibian conservancy model
provides benefits to communities through income derived from trophy hunting, culling
and photographic tourism (Republic of Namibia, 1996). Namibian conservancy
members can continue with their agricultural practices but can also build lodges for
tourists and/or hunters, both of which can potentially provide income for local
communities. Conservancy members also receive compensation payments for damage
caused by wildlife (Kasaona, 2006). Although conservancies have been successful at
providing benefits to local communities (Marker & Boast, 2015), these benefits are
sometimes not distributed equitably (Rust & Marker, 2013).
Table 2. Financial mechanisms used in Namibia to mitigate human-carnivore conflict
Mechanism Description of financial mechanism
Compensation Monetary payments made if livestock is proven to be killed by a
carnivore (Esterhuizen, 2004)
Conservancies Neighbouring landholders share costs of carnivore prevention and
can benefit from carnivores through provision of property rights
(NACSO, 2013)
Eco-labels Farmers receive a price premium on meat that is farmed in a
predator-friendly manner (Marker et al., 2003)
Insurance Small premiums are paid by farmers to insure their livestock
against depredation; if depredation occurs, full payment will be
given on the condition that measures were taken to reduce
chance of depredation (Kasaona, 2006)
Tourism Income received from tourists who pay to view carnivores
(Stander et al., 1997)
Trophy hunting Income received from trophy hunters who kill carnivores (Marker
et al., 2003)
Other financial
incentives Grants and loans are provided to farmers to offset the costs of
farming in a landscape shared with carnivores
As the use of financial incentives to reduce human-carnivore conflict is
relatively prevalent throughout the country, the national media sometimes report on
their usage. Namibian newspapers cover both the financial incentives used and the
benefits and disadvantages of implementing these tools to mitigate conflict. Assessing
how the national media frame interventions to improve human-carnivore coexistence
can help conservationists strategically plan communications and anticipate what kinds
of issues people believe affect conservation interventions.
4.2.1 Conceptual Framework and Objectives Media and frames
A frame is “a way of packaging and positioning an issue so that it conveys a certain
meaning” (Menashe & Siegel, 1998: 310); it can be thought of as a meta-message that
guides an article into a particular direction (Tannen, 1993). Frames are important
because people’s decisions can be changed through minor alterations in the way that
problems are framed (Tversky & Kahneman, 1982). Opinions can also be shaped by
the way that the media convey information on environmental issues, which, in turn,
can influence further headlines (Jensen, 2003). The media has the power to transform
attitudes towards biodiversity (although not always, see Gore, Siemer, Shanahan,
Schuefele, & Decker (2005)), as well as the policies and campaigns aimed at wildlife
conservation (Gore & Knuth, 2009; Messmer et al., 2001). Conversely, the way in
which an article is framed can reflect recent experiences related to that topic
(Runhaar, Runhaar, & Vink, 2015).
A frame’s valence refers to whether it is conveyed largely in a positive or
negative manner; this valence can affect public support for policies (de Vreese &
Boomgaarden, 2003). News articles on wildlife topics often contain quotes from
stakeholders involved in conversation; the people chosen to provide these quotes can
also influence how the readers perceive the issue (Jacobson, Langin, Carlton, & Kaid,
2011). Because the media control the themes it focuses on and the amount of
coverage of news items, they are important actors involved in wildlife management.
Analysis of media frames about conservation challenges have been used to
understand narratives on topics related to human-carnivore coexistence. Previous
research has examined how the media cover topics such as “problem animals”,
incidents of attacks by carnivores, and how media coverage shapes attitudes towards
predators (Alexander & Quinn, 2012; Gore & Knuth, 2009; Houston et al., 2010).
However, no published research to date has focused on the news coverage of financial
mechanisms for influencing wildlife conservation. This is problematic because these
financial schemes are widespread across the globe (Dickman et al., 2011) and the
media may influence the public’s attitudes if articles are constantly framed positively
or negatively, as has been shown in other disciplines (Brewer, Graf, & Willnat, 2003;
Terkildsen & Schnell, 1997).
Attitudes towards incentives are important to understand as they could reveal
the types of mechanisms that are most acceptable and to whom, the schemes that are
thought to be succeeding or failing and the reasons for this, and the stakeholder
groups that are most positive or negative towards each scheme. Information on how
the media frame financial mechanisms could also assist wildlife managers efforts to
communicate with stakeholders and the media on effective carnivore conservation
methods (Siemer, Decker, & Shanahan, 2007), as well as improve outreach and
management efforts (Jacobson et al., 2011).
4.2.2 Aim and objectives
This article sought to understand how the media framed financial incentives that
aimed to improve human-carnivore coexistence in Namibia. The objectives were to
1. the types of financial mechanisms that were discussed in Namibian newspapers
in relation to carnivore conservation, along with their relative frequencies and
whether they were used alone or with other mitigation measures,
2. the valence of the articles, and
3. the stakeholder groups used as sources within the articles.
4.3.1 Sampling Frame
Content analysis of newspapers was used to achieve the above objectives. Five of the
most popular Namibian newspapers with a total weekly readership of 173,000 were
used in the content analysis: Informante (65,000 copies printed week), The Namibian
(40,000 copies/week), Namibian Economist (7,000 copies/week), Namibian Sun
(36,000 copies/week), and New Era (25,000 copies/week). These newspapers were
chosen due to their wide readership (in comparison to other national newspapers that
have readerships below 5,000 copies/week each), their use of English language, and
the ability to search their websites for archived articles.
Each of the newspapers’ search engines was used to scan keywords in online
articles (see Appendix A for the full list of keywords used), which looked at the titles
and content of each article. The search included articles written by journalists, as well
as editorials and letters written by the general public. The newspapers listed articles
on their websites from the date when newspapers began indexing articles online
(which ranged from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2010) until the date of the search. All
search engines provided results from order of relevance to the key words used. Data
collection took place between January-February 2013.
No sampling was used to select articles; all 122 articles identified through the
searches were read and analysed. Articles not specifically related to research
objectives (e.g. not related to Namibia or not discussing carnivores) were excluded
from analysis. Prior to searching for the defined keywords, a random sample (n = 15)
of articles were read and analysed to assist with developing the protocol and codebook
(Evans & FitzGerald, 2002).
4.3.2 Coding Protocol
Each article was read and coded for sections that referred to financial mechanisms to
improve human-carnivore coexistence. Each article was read independently by two
coders (Morris, 1994) to increase reliability and reduce bias.
First, information related to the research objectives were collected and saved
onto a computer worksheet. To answer objective 1, the following data were recorded:
title, main synopsis and incentive measures proposed/used; for objective 2, additional
information collected included the valence of article; finally, for objective 3,
information was recorded on the stakeholder group(s) of the article’s author or the
interview respondents. Articles that noted more than one stakeholder group were
also recorded. Articles sometimes conveyed both positive and negative valences: if
different stakeholder groups within the article expressed different attitudes towards
incentives, valences were attributed to each stakeholder. If one stakeholder
mentioned both positive and negative aspects, this was coded as an ambivalent
valence. There were no instances of articles written by journalists where stakeholder
groups were not interviewed or sourced. Stakeholders were categorized as:
academics, carnivore conservation non-governmental organisations (NGOs),
community-based conservation NGOs, farmers, general public, government officials, or
Second, each article was systematically coded to ascribe numbers to the
variables measure (see below) that related to the research objectives. Codes were
mutually exclusive, exhaustive and applied consistently throughout the coding process.
Two coders were trained in the coding protocol.
Codes were developed for four variables:
1. type of financial mechanism(s) discussed,
2. valence of each financial mechanism (i.e., positive, negative, neutral or
3. stakeholder group(s) that either wrote or were interviewed for the article, and
4. whether financial incentives were used alone or with other mitigation
measures such as livestock guarding dogs or herders.
Compensation and insurance schemes were combined into one category
because the compensation scheme previously offered to communal conservancy
members of Namibia had changed to an insurance scheme in some areas (Bowen-
Jones, 2012). When referring to either compensation or insurance schemes
throughout the rest of this article, the term ‘compensation’ was used for brevity, as
the two schemes were very similar in nature. Financial incentive schemes that
provided in-kind donations (e.g., replacement livestock or guarding dogs) were treated
separately because they did not involve direct monetary transfer.
Third, inter-coder reliability of all variables was checked using Cohen’s Kappa, K
(Cohen, 1960). When the reliability was < 0.7, articles were re-coded. Values > 0.7
demonstrate a strong level of reliability (Lombard, Snyder-Dutch, & Bracken, 2002).
When K < 0.7, both coders discussed discrepancies, and independently recoded articles
for those variables. After the second round of coding, the inter-coder reliability for all
variables was > 0.7 and analysis proceeded.
4.3.3 Valence of Frame
Following Houston et al. (2010)’s approach for defining a frame’s valence, financial
mechanisms were deemed to have a positive valence where there was a clear positive
message given about the scheme by the stakeholder (e.g. “conservancies allow
benefits to flow to those who are living with wildlife”); negative messages included
phrases such as “no conservancy member has ever been paid compensation”;
ambivalent messages included phrases such as “wildlife impacts people and their
properties but also brings benefits”. A neutral valence was assigned when no opinion
was given as to the positive or negative effects of a financial mechanism.
4.3.4 Data Analysis
Chi-square was used to determine whether there was a significant difference between
the frequencies of positive, negative, neutral or ambivalent valences of each financial
incentive. A post-hoc adjusted-residuals analysis was then conducted to determine
where the significance lay between the different valances. Significance was set at p <
0.05. Qualitative data analysis was also used to contextualise the findings. A grounded
theory approach was used to search for common themes in the data (Glaser & Strauss,
1967). Quotes from the articles were used to capture the essence of each theme,
which helped explain the results obtained (Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003).
4.4.1 Types of Financial Incentives
The most common incentive measure reported in the 122 articles was compensation,
followed by trophy hunting and tourism (Table 3). Financial mechanisms were most
often mentioned being used as a single mitigation technique without reference to
other measures (72%). This was followed with using them in combination with
livestock husbandry changes to reduce depredation, monitoring of carnivores and
training of farmers on how to protect livestock (24%) and then with social assistance
such as help with school fees (4%).
4.4.2 Stakeholder Groups
The majority of articles were either written by individuals working for NGOs, or were
journalists who interviewed individuals from NGOs (Table 4). Academics, tourism
employees and the general public were rarely used as information sources within the
4.4.3 Framing of Incentives
A total of 56 (46%) articles had a positive valence, 29 (24%) were ambivalent, 23 (19%)
were negative and 14 (11%) articles had a neutral valence. The frequency of articles
with a positive valence of compensation was significantly greater than the frequency
of articles with a mixed, negative or neutral valence (Table 5), whereas significantly
more articles on conservancies were written ambivalently. The frequency of eco-
labels, loans and grants mentioned in articles was too small to conduct statistical tests
on, although articles that included these financial mechanisms frequently spoke
positively of them.
Table 3. Frequency and percentage (in brackets) of carnivore conservation financial
incentive types reported in five Namibian newspapers
Incentive Type
Frequency (%)
52 (30%)
Trophy hunting
38 (22%)
Photographic t
36 (20%)
27 (15%)
6 (3%)
5 (3%)
Diversifying incomes
4 (2%)
4 (2%)
3 (2%)
1Includes taxes, loans or property rights; 2Includes growing crops or opening businesses to provide
additional income
Table 4. Frequency (percentage in brackets) of different author groups quoted in
Namibian newspaper articles on financial mechanisms to mitigate human-carnivore
Stakeholder group of respondent
Frequency (%)
Conservancy NGO
46 (38%)
Government official
27 (22%)
Carnivore NGO
21 (17%)
or farming organisa
10 (8%)
Hunter or hunting organisation
General public
6 (5%)
3 (2%)
Tourism operator
3 (2%)
Of the articles with a positive valence of compensation, 15 (75%) of the people
interviewed had no experience of using this financial incentive to mitigate conflict, but
rather spoke of the potential benefits. Those interviewed here tended to be
conservancy NGOs and the general public. However, of the articles on compensation
where the valence was negative, ambivalent or neutral, 11 (85%) of those interviewed
had experience of the incentive. One government official, for example, stated that
compensation “is extremely expensive and difficult to verify and manage, much as it is
difficult to assess and determine the value of losses". Valences were often negative
towards compensation when it was not received: for instance, after a number of
uncompensated livestock attacks, “farmers… threatened to declare war on the lions”.
Even when compensation was received, stakeholders often complained of late or
partial payments and corruption within the scheme.
Table 5. Frequency (percentage in brackets) of valence of financial mechanisms
reported in Namibian newspapers for mitigating carnivore conflict (* denotes
significantly different)
20 (61%)*
4 (12%)
5 (15%)
4 (12%)
.001*, χ² = 22.3
7 (21%)
15 (47%)*
5 (16%)
5 (16%)
.037*, χ² = 8.5
5 (100%)
3 (67%)
1 (33%)
5 (25%)
6 (30%)
5 (25%)
4 (20%)
0, χ² = 0.4
Trophy hunting
10 (42%)
3 (12%)
6 (25%)
5 (21%)
.228, χ² = 4.3
Conservancies were often framed ambivalently as it was thought that although
financial benefits were received, the protection of wildlife could also increase the
numbers of predators on the land, leading to more instances of livestock depredation.
For instance, one article that started by discussing the benefits of conservancies then
ended with “[t]he number of conflicts between people and wild animals has
increased”. As well as the negative aspects of conservancies, there were reported
benefits (mostly by those working in conservation). Conservationists quoted in the
articles often mentioned the increases in carnivore populations as clear benefits of
conservancies. For example, one carnivore conservationist mentioned that he
“attributed the increase in the number of desert lions to the creation of conservancies,
as they have given people an appreciation of the value of the animals”.
Photographic tourism received a mixed response from stakeholders in the articles.
Conservationists were positive of its potential ability to improve human-carnivore
coexistence (e.g. “[c]rucial to the conservation of carnivores, according to Wild Dog
Project, is the [p]romotion of species-based tourism concentrating on wild dogs… to
reduce conflict on farmlands”), whereas local communities complained that income
did not fully offset the costs of damage incurred. For example, several newspapers ran
stories on an entire pride of lions that was reportedly killed due to instances of
livestock depredation suffered by local farmers.
Trophy hunting was often discussed positively by trophy hunters and negatively
by carnivore conservationists. For example, one executive member of a national
trophy hunting organisation said that “the ability to utilise cheetahs sustainably, just
like any other natural living resource, aids conservation efforts by giving landowners
and communal conservancy members economic incentives to preserve, rather than
reduce, the cheetah population”. Carnivore conservationists, however, were
concerned with the lack of benefits to both people and predators: “This practice has
no community benefit and is destructive to the conservation of this keystone
predator… Trophy hunting as a means of alleviating human wildlife conflict is
indiscriminate and therefore ineffective in dealing with an actual problem animal...
Financial benefits to the community through hyena trophy-hunting… is minimal”.
A concern raised by 12 (10%) articles was the equitable sharing of benefits received
from tourism and trophy hunting. For example, one article mentioned a large private
game reserve owner who wished to turn Namibia into a wildlife park for international
tourists. A letter to the editor, however, expressed severe concern to this: “is it not a
mistake to allow [carnivores] to live within the same area as our people?...Is the grand
plan to make the whole of Rural Namibia an amusement park by 2030?". The author
was worried that tourism would only benefit tourism businesses rather than local
communities living with predators.
Namibian newspapers were used to illustrate the nature and extent to which the
media can frame valences towards using financial mechanisms to improve human-
carnivore coexistence. Compensation, tourism, trophy hunting and conservancies
were the most frequently discussed financial methods in the articles. Of these,
compensation was the most common incentive and was often referred to in a positive
manner when compared with other methods. Articles in this study often highlighted
the benefits of compensation to offset the costs of livestock depredation. However,
government employees interviewed in the articles mentioned that the government
was unwilling to accept responsibility for losses to carnivores by paying compensation
to farmers, particularly because of the complexity of verifying damage. This concern
questions the effectiveness of using compensation for wildlife conservation, which has
also been noted by others (Nyhus, Osofsky, Ferraro, Madden, & Fischer, 2005). In
communities that were meant to receive compensation but where payment was not
received, locals became frustrated at the scheme. This could result in widespread
poaching of predators if communities do not receive what is perceived to be adequate
reimbursement for damage to property (Hazzah et al., 2014).
Individuals who were profiled in news media stories and who conveyed positive
attitudes towards compensation most often discussed this method as a potential tool
to improve tolerance towards carnivores. However, many did not have previous
experience of using this incentive to resolve the issue due to lack of funding to initiate
the scheme. The reported number of articles in this study that mentioned the positive
aspects of compensation cannot therefore be used as proof that this financial incentive
is effective at mitigating conflict. Other research has indicated that, after experience
with compensation in Wisconsin USA, farmers were no more tolerant of carnivores
than those who did not receive compensation (Naughton-Treves, Grossberg, & Treves,
2003). Similar to critics elsewhere, the results herein support the literature on
cautioning the use of compensation to mitigate conflict with carnivores (Nyhus et al.,
2005). It may be beneficial for conservation academics to liaise with the media
regarding the pros and cons of compensation schemes to ensure that the general
public receive accurate information on this particular incentive.
Namibian conservancies in this article were most often framed with an
ambivalent valence. For this incentive scheme to be successful at improving
coexistence between carnivores and conservancy members, content analysis of the
newspapers in this study suggested that benefits of carnivores must offset their costs;
a finding mirrored in previous research (Rust & Marker, 2013). Improving benefits
might not only change the current ambivalent attitude towards conservancies, but
could also increase tolerance to carnivores (Rust & Marker, 2013). This suggests that
community-based conservation schemes that aim to provide income to local
communities living with wildlife will only succeed if the income can offset the costs of
living with wildlife (Emerton, 2001), which may prove difficult to achieve in some
circumstances, particularly where tourism potential is low or governances is weak
(Collomb et al., 2007).
Money from photographic tourism was reported by carnivore conservation
NGOs in this study as being a useful method to provide income to locals, which they
thought could offset the costs of living with carnivores. However, similar to the
problems with conservancies, communities interviewed in the articles often
complained that the income was not sufficient to cover the costs of depredation. This
is worrying as it could lead to an increase in lethal control of carnivores if these species
are deemed more valuable dead rather than alive, as was shown in Tanzania and
Kenya (Goldman et al., 2013). To ensure that lethal control is a less attractive option in
such situations, it may be beneficial to provide additional support to areas with high
levels of livestock depredation, such as subsidised fencing to protect livestock from
attacks by carnivores (Karlsson & Sjöström, 2011).
Individuals interviewed that were involved in trophy hunting reported that this
financial mechanism could create a high-value product that reimbursed residents from
damage-causing carnivores. Previous research has shown that achieving a similar
profit from photographic tourism would be much more time-consuming and
expensive, as photographic tourists require both a lodge and sufficient charismatic
game to be attracted to visit the area (Lindsey, Alexander, Frank, Mathieson, &
Romanach, 2006). Many areas of Namibia, however, do not have either of these and
therefore trophy hunting provided the only viable income-generating avenue from
wildlife (NACSO, 2013). Carnivore conservation NGOs in this study were, however,
concerned that trophy hunting of rare carnivores was not ecologically sustainable and
instead thought that incentives to conserve carnivores must be created exclusively
from photographic tourism. However, as mentioned previously, tourism income may
not fully outweigh the costs of depredation. It is advisable that tourism not be used as
the sole financial mechanism to provide benefits to communities for carnivore
presence where the income does not offset the costs.
Some newspaper articles reported that the main problem with incentive
schemes was that money was only being distributed to a few individuals, rather than
those who were most negatively affected by carnivores. It is therefore unclear as to
who is benefitting from wildlife and whether this benefit distribution is equitable
(Sachedina & Nelson, 2010). The governance of financial mechanisms must be
addressed to ensure that corruption and elite capture is minimised (Dickman et al.,
2011). If these problems cannot be overcome, it is unlikely that financial mechanisms
will reduce lethal control of carnivores.
Financial mechanisms were frequently discussed without mention of other
mitigation techniques, such as educating the public on the value of carnivores or using
barrier methods to prevent depredation. This may be one of the reasons for the
ambivalent and negative attitudes towards these financial tools because depredation
can often be reduced through improvements to husbandry techniques (Ogada et al.,
2003; Rust, Whitehouse-Tedd, & MacMillan, 2013; Woodroffe, Frank, Lindsey, ole
Ranah, & Romañach, 2006), which would automatically lessen the financial burden
that carnivores place upon livestock farmers. Newspaper editors could be made aware
of this to ensure that the public are not misguided into thinking that a single technique
will reduce conflict sufficiently.
Academics were rarely sourced for interviews and infrequently wrote letters to
the editor on this subject, whereas members of NGOs dominated authorship and
interviews for the articles. It is advisable that conservation academics engage more
often with the media on this topic to ensure unbiased, evidence-based reporting of
these financial mechanisms12. It may also prove useful for academics to write about
other conservation incentive measures that have been successful in different
countries, such as conservation payments in Sweden (Zabel & Holm-Muller, 2008).
The use of compensation, trophy hunting, photographic tourism and conservancies are
well-known techniques in Namibia to mitigate conflict with carnivores, but there are
other financial mechanisms that could be tested in this country. The media could play
12 Although noting that some (but not all (Wellesley, Happer, & Froggatt, 2015)) individuals may feel that
academics are also biased
a role in assisting to create awareness of their use in mitigating conflict (Gore & Knuth,
2009), although it must be stressed that the media is not very effective at changing the
opinions of close-knit social groups that strongly disbelieve the newspaper’s content
(Moser, 2010).
This chapter reaffirms that content analysis is a useful but not perfect tool for
understanding human dimensions of wildlife management; articles often have biased
perspectives with hidden agendas that advocate for certain viewpoints. This is a
common occurrence in the media (McCombs, 2013). The abundance of articles
affiliated with carnivore conservation organisations - who were often vehemently
opposed to any lethal control of carnivores - was in direct contrast with the views that
trophy hunting organisations expressed in the articles, the latter of whom believed
that creating financial markets from carnivores was possibly the only way to save these
species. These polarised views are indicative of the underlying principles each
organisation adhered to, also shown in another study looking at perceptions of otters
in the US (Goedeke, 2005). Newspaper companies themselves may also have one-
sided views about particular topics, which may skew their reporting of the issue
(D’Alessio & Allen, 2000; Groseclose & Milyo, 2005). NGOs often rely on donor funding
for their running costs and could promote certain activities that align with their
donors’ points of view. It is uncommon for NGOs to communicate project failures
because of possible loss of donor support (Redford & Taber, 2000). As such, facts can
become distorted into partial truths in the media and researchers must be cautious to
use newspapers if their aim is to determine accurate reflections of reality, for instance
by gauging attitudes towards carnivores over time (e.g. Houston et al., 2010).
There were a number of limitations to this study. As the literacy rate of
Namibia is only 85% (IREX, 2013), not all citizens had access to information sourced in
newspapers. Also newspapers were not widely accessible across the more remote
rural areas of Namibia where most of the country’s carnivores were found. Together
these limitations suggest that some citizens were not susceptible to the media’s
possible framing effects. It would be useful to understand the framing of incentives in
different newspapers, as readers may favour some newspapers over others, which
could influence different groups of readers in different ways. Furthermore, given that
some financial incentives in this study hinted towards their mixed success, it would be
important to understand what conditions affect their success. Lastly, the results of this
study could benefit from undertaking content analysis on other forms of media, such
as radio or television, and in other languages, to determine whether framing differs in
these other formats.
In conclusion, this research has shown that financial incentives to improve
human-carnivore coexistence were more likely to be reported positively or
ambivalently rather than negatively. One may therefore assume that financial
mechanisms such as compensation, trophy hunting and tourism have a potential role
to play in reducing this conflict for Namibians, as has been suggested in other parts of
the world (Dickman et al., 2011). Compensation in particular was frequently
mentioned in newspaper articles and also was often reported positively because of its
potential for conflict to be resolved via financial reimbursement. However, there was
a lack of evidence to fully justify these positive claims. This could suggest that
newspapers were used as lobbying mediums by interest groups, particularly
environmental NGOs, to advocate for their own agendas, possibly in part to
demonstrate to potential funders the success of their schemes. Thus it is important
for conservation practitioners and academics to inform the media on fact-based
findings related to wildlife conservation tools, which can then help shape public
opinion. Other financial incentives such as photographic tourism and conservancies
were framed more ambivalently, often because the benefits of these schemes did not
outweigh the costs to communities. Results imply it would be prudent for
conservationists to use caution when solely relying on these incentives to increase
tolerance to carnivores if no other means are available to offset livestock depredation.
So-called “human-wildlife conflict” has historically been portrayed as a management
problem, where solutions were thought to lie in technical changes or financial
incentives. However, recent research shows that many of these conflicts largely stem
from social, economic and political drivers. I undertook qualitative data collection on
livestock farms to determine whether these drivers, particularly related to work
relations between farmers and their workers, affected frequency of reported livestock
depredation in Namibia. I found that the conflict was affected by social and economic
inequalities embedded in the previous apartheid regime. Macro- and micro-level
socio-economic problems created an environment where livestock depredation was
exacerbated by unmotivated farm workers. Poor treatment of workers by farmers
resulted in vengeful behaviours, such as livestock theft and wildlife poaching. This
study shows that the conflict between carnivores and livestock farmers in Namibia is a
“wicked” problem with no easy solution; however, the first step towards addressing
this situation is to recognise its true nature by understanding its complexity rather
than reducing it to its most simplistic parts.
Keywords: apartheid, carnivores, depredation, farming, livestock, human-wildlife
conflict, racism, theft, wildlife poaching
Despite a multitude of different approaches proposed to mitigate the so-called
“conflict” between livestock farmers and carnivores, people are reporting increased
damages by carnivores across many parts of the world13 (Conover, 2002; Harper, Paul,
& Mech, 2005; Moheb, Lawson, & Mostafawi, 2012; Tamang & Baral, 2008). This not
only threatens the livelihoods of farmers that share their land with carnivores, but also
13 Possibly because the proposed mitigation measures not being implemented
endangers recently restored carnivore populations as some farmers can turn to lethal
control to manage this situation (Aryal, Brunton, Ji, Barraclough, & Raubenheimer,
2014; Rust & Marker, 2014). Why is it that we have not found a sustainable way to
resolve human-wildlife conflict in the long-term? This could be because we are not
addressing the deeper social problems associated with this issue (Madden & McQuinn,
2014). Furthermore, carnivores living on livestock farms are managed by a multitude
of human players: for instance, herders can reduce livestock depredation but farmers
might not employ them because herders can be inattentive (R Rigg, 2001) or expensive
(Swenson & Andrén, 2005). Alongside the human players on the farm are those
influencing decisions from a distance: policy makers and international trade officers
have the power to alter the profits of the farming industry; this in turn influences the
management both of farms (Schmid & Sinabell, 2007; van Meijl, van Rheenen, Tabeau,
& Eickhout, 2006) and of the carnivores living on farmland (Jones and Barnes 2006).
However, limited attention has been placed on understanding how these players affect
human-wildlife conflict.
It has also been noted that human-carnivore coexistence has not historically
been achieved partly because practitioners often relied on technical solutions to treat
immediate rather than underlying cause(s) of livestock depredation (Madden &
McQuinn, 2014). In Namibia – a country where wildlife is more populous on farmland
than in protected areas (Krugmann, 2001) – there have been a variety of methods
used to reduce conflict with carnivores, including translocating problem animals, using
livestock guarding dogs and herders, excluding predators from farms and killing
recurrent problem animals (Marker et al., 2005; Rust et al., 2015). Sometimes these
techniques have successfully limited livestock depredation, yet farmers are reporting
more frequent problems with carnivores (NACSO, 2013). This could be because
carnivore populations are increasing nationally, but could also be because underlying
social and ecological causes of the conflicts have not yet been adequately addressed.
This particular conservation conflict can therefore be thought of as a “wicked problem”
as it is extremely complex to understand and solve (Leong et al., 2012); this infers that
parochialism should be avoided and instead we must begin to understand the intricacy
of the problem both to effectively manage it in the long-term (Madden & McQuinn,
2014) and to bridge perceptions with reality (Hill & Webber, 2010).
Recent scholars have shown that human-wildlife conflict is often due to
disagreements between different groups of people over how to manage wildlife (S. G.
Clark et al., 2014; Redpath, Bhatia, et al., 2015). There have been calls to rename
human-wildlife conflict as “human-human conflict over wildlife”, or simply as a
“conservation conflict” (Redpath, Gutiérrez, Wood, & Young, 2015). Carnivores can
therefore be thought of as peripheral players pulled into the debate of wildlife
management by individuals who hold contrasting values, whereas the true causes of
the conflict often lie more deeply in cultural, historical, political and sociological factors
(S. G. Clark et al., 2014). Whilst academic studies have explored the social and
psychological aspects of conservation conflicts in their research (e.g. Mosimane et al.
2013), few conflict mitigation schemes have fully integrated these human dimensions
in their entirety when implementing carnivore management strategies. Indeed,
Namibia has a national policy on managing human-wildlife conflict (Government of
Namibia, 2009) but this focuses almost exclusively on technical, economic and
ecological factors related to the problem whilst ignoring social and psychological
Associated with the complex social and psychological factors influencing human-
wildlife conflict is the management of the farm and its natural resources, which can
alter the extent of livestock depredation. For instance, killing game animals in the local
area will decrease the availability of wild prey for carnivores, which can then lead to
greater livestock depredation (Soh et al., 2014). Poaching of game is an important
factor when understanding the ways in which farmer-worker relations affect livestock
depredation because employees are often involved in poaching (Lindsey et al., 2011;
Warchol & Johnson, 2009). Workers have also been known to steal livestock
(Khoabane & Black, 2009), which could potentially result in farmers perceiving
carnivores to be a greater threat than in reality if they believe carnivores are reducing
livestock numbers rather than humans. Lastly, the skill levels of farmers and workers
can influence the level of livestock depredation if they are not sufficiently trained in
how to look after livestock when predators are present (Rust & Marker, forthcoming).
As such, it is essential to understand the farmer-worker relationship when trying to
improve coexistence between humans and carnivores (and indeed between farmers
and workers).
Due to the important influence that employees might have on the frequency of
depredation, I took a novel angle to studying human-carnivore coexistence on
Namibian commercial farms. My aim was to determine whether the relationship
between the farmer and the employees influenced the degree of reported livestock
depredation on farms. The objectives were to:
1. Identify if there were any common themes on farms with higher levels
of reported livestock depredation, livestock theft and game poaching compared with
farms with lower reported levels of these events,
2. Explore these potential themes to understand what (if any) social,
economic and political factors influenced reported livestock depredation, theft and
3. Determine whether the skill level of farmers and/or workers influenced
level of reported livestock depredation.
Although other actors also significantly affect farm management (e.g. policy
makers), I focused on the farmer-worker interaction as a starting point to
understanding the complexity of farm systems and their effect on human-carnivore
coexistence. Due to the previously-described benefits of using qualitative methods to
research complex, sensitive and hard-to-reach concepts (Drury et al., 2011), I took a
qualitative approach to this data collection. It must however be made clear that
results from qualitative data collection are not intended to be extrapolated to other
locations, but can be used to understand general themes that may be applicable
5.3.1 Study area
As briefly mentioned in Chapter 1, Namibia has two forms of farming: commercial (or
“freehold”) farming is on private land where livestock are raised on a large scale for
profit; conversely, Namibian communal farming is on government-owned land where
some resource rights are given to the occupier. The study area focused on commercial
stock farming. Commercial livestock farmers in Namibia (who are predominantly
white) often employ individuals from communal lands, who are almost exclusively
black (Atkinson, 2007; Hunter, 2004b). This is due to the historical context from which
commercial farming arose in Namibia: during apartheid, black Africans were forcibly
removed from their lands and relocated to tribe-specific areas of the country, known
as “reservations” or “homelands” (Adams & Devitt, 1992). Many of the relocated
areas suffered from insufficient water points and lack of access to livestock markets.
This resulted in widespread poverty and unemployment due to the agrarian lifestyle of
the communities (Hunter, 2004b). The enforced poverty created a reservoir of
potential workers for commercial farmers to utilise and, due to a large supply with a
low demand, meant that wages were extremely low (Atkinson, 2007). Although the
country gained independence in 1990, Namibia continues to have one of the most
unequal wealth distributions in the world (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013) as
progress has been slow to readjust power from the Namibians of European descent to
the black Africans (World Bank, 2009); discontent between these two sectors of
society still persists (Hunter, 2004a; Pisani, 2003).
5.3.2 Interviews
Qualitative interviews were undertaken between September and November 2013 and
were conducted with 22 farmers, 26 farm workers and 21 unemployed farm workers.
Sixty interviews were conducted face-to-face, and, due to logistical constraints, 5
farmer interviews were conducted by email, 2 via Skype and 2 by telephone. Data
collection followed a predominantly inductive approach to learn about the depth of
this underexplored and sensitive topic (Sarker, Lau, & Sahay, 2001) with interviews
undertaken in a semi-structured manner (Appendix B) to allow scope to explore other
underlying issues. The focus was not specifically on human-carnivore coexistence, but
rather explored broader issues associated with employee-worker relations on white-
owned livestock farms and how this related to livestock depredation, theft and
Questions posed to respondents related to:
1. the respondent’s relationship with their colleagues;
2. instances of livestock depredation on the farm; and
3. instances of livestock theft or wildlife poaching on their farm or on farms
The questions on theft and poaching could be considered sensitive by respondents due
to their illegal nature. To overcome the potential for non-responses or untruthful
answers, respondents were interviewed privately and were assured confidentiality. By
asking sensitive questions at the end of the interview, it was also assumed that
respondents were more comfortable and relaxed (Newing et al., 2010). The questions
were posed so as not incriminate the respondent, for example by asking “Do you know
of any cases where there have been livestock stolen or wildlife poached on this farm or
farms near here?”. It was also assumed that if the farmer knew of poaching or theft
instances caused (or perceived to be) by employees, (s)he would freely admit this.
Participants were interviewed in private to reduce the chance of potential
ramifications of workers exposing instances of illegal behaviour on the farm. Whilst
participants were informed that the questions would relate to farmer-worker relations
and how this affected farm management and livestock depredation, they were not told
in advance that some questions would relate to illegal behaviour. This is because it
was assumed that some farmers might not want their workers to be interviewed about
illegal behaviour or would try to listen to the interview if they knew that these
questions would be asked. Workers were interviewed prior to farmers to ensure that
farmers were not aware of the questions on illegal behaviour until after workers had
been interviewed.
Free, prior, informed consent was obtained from all respondents before
interviews took place (Puri, 2011; see Chapter 2 for more details) and interviews were
conducted in English. Many Namibians speak Afrikaans as their first language, so
respondents were offered the option of having a translator present at the interview.
All respondents were however comfortable speaking in English. Interviews were
recorded on a Dictaphone for later transcription, with the average interview lasting
approximately one hour. Ethical approval was received for this methodology by the
University of Kent ethics committee. All interviews remained confidential and
Lastly, triangulation was used as a method of data corroboration (Newing et al.,
2010) by asking the same question to different respondents and by comparing these
responses to those of others, as well as (where possible) comparing interview answers
with observed behaviour. Where important themes emerged from interviews,
questions were then posed to other respondents to validate findings; data collection
was therefore iterative and followed a grounded-theory approach, where initial data
rounds were analysed to explore themes, which informed subsequent data collection
(Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
5.3.3 Participant Observation
I lived on a livestock farm for 8 months in 2013 to undertake participant observation.
During this time, I visited nine other farms to gather additional information on
livestock husbandry practices, with a focus on methods used on farms deter carnivores
from killing livestock and on farmer-worker relationships. Each trip lasted 1-7 days,
averaging 3 days. Interactions between the farmers and the employees were observed
to gain an understanding of the relationship between these two actors. Data were
collected by shadowing the farmer and employees whilst they completed tasks around
the farm and, where possible, I participated in husbandry to gain a more thorough
understanding of the industry. Information was recorded on a notepad, which was
then transcribed into memos.
5.3.4 Sampling for interviews
During 2013, I attended various rural social activities in the study area in order to
develop a network of farmer respondents. A snowball sampling technique was used to
recruit farmers for interviews with the help of a number of key informants that had
been purposefully sampled. This was used in addition to employing theoretical
sampling (Glaser, 1978) whereby respondents were selected based on their ability to
convey breadth and depth of the theories that were emerging from the data. From a
total of 35 farmers contacted, 22 respondents were interviewed (a 63% response rate),
which is deemed an acceptable level of response for interviews (Witkin & Altschuld,
All 26 farm employees were interviewed at each farm visited. Unemployed farm
workers (n = 21) were recruited via convenience and purposeful sampling by visiting a
large farm supply store in the district’s main town of Otjiwarongo during August 2013.
This store is where scores of unemployed farm workers congregated to obtain
employment from farmers who visited the shop. It was assumed that unemployed
workers would be more open and honest about any possible problems with their
previous employment as there would be no fear of retributive action. No employed or
unemployed worker refused to be interviewed. New respondents were continually
sourced for interviews until theoretical saturation was reached, i.e. where no new
themes were emerging from new data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).
5.3.5 Skills Audit
A skills audit was conducted on respondents at the end of each interview to determine
their self-rated key skills for working on a livestock farm (see Appendix C). This was to
establish whether there were significant gaps in knowledge of how respondents
performed at their jobs and how this might relate to reported livestock depredation.
Sixteen farmers, 26 farm workers and 21 unemployed farm workers completed a skills
audit (the remaining 6 farmers refused due to their reported time constraints).
The skills audit for each of the three respondent groups was devised by
speaking to eight livestock farmers in the study area who gave recommendations on
the required knowledge and experience necessary to perform satisfactorily when
working on a livestock farm. This skills list was the same for both the employed and
unemployed workers, which detailed basic competencies required to work on a farm,
such as understanding rudimentary husbandry requirements of livestock and how to
herd livestock. The list was different for the manager/owner, which had a more
complex list of advanced skills, such as how to undertake effective grazing
management and how to vaccinate livestock. Both audits included questions on
whether the respondent knew how to protect livestock when predators were present,
along with knowing why livestock were “kraaled14 and why guarding dogs were used.
This was to understand whether they were aware of basic techniques to deter
predators. Respondents were asked to rate their self-reported ability to perform each
task on a scale of 1-3, where 1 equalled no ability, 2 equalled some ability and 3
equalled full ability. A pilot of the skills audit was run on 3 individuals from each of the
3 study groups to check for clarity and comprehension of the survey.
5.3.6 Analysis
All interviews and memos were transcribed into NVivo 10 (QSR International Limited,
Cheshire, UK) within 24 hours of each interview. These were then coded using the
14 Afrikaans for corralled
grounded theory approach (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) firstly by reading the initial
interviews and memos to determine the common themes that were beginning to
emerge. Each theme was coded using a coding framework, which developed as
further data were collected. The emergent themes helped to frame future interview
questions to explore these factors more thoroughly. Secondly, specific codes were
generated within NVivo that applied to each theme (Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003),
which used both axial15 and open coding16 (MacMillan & Han, 2011). Thirdly, a final
iteration of coding was then conducted at the end of data collection to validate the
findings and the coding framework (Cassidy, 2012; Saldaña, 2010). Quotes used in the
results section were selected for their typical representation of a particular theme that
emerged from the data collected during the interviews and participant observation
(Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003).
To answer objective 1, farms were categorised by the different levels of reported
livestock depredation, poaching and theft reported to occur. This was undertaken as
1. Reported percentage of livestock lost via depredation in the last year
ranging from none to low (1-3% of the flock/herd) to high (4%+);
2. Poaching of game: none or known instances on the farm in the last 2
3. Theft of livestock: none or known instances on the farm in the last 2
Categorisation of the first variable was based upon previous Namibian research
where farmers indicated the degree to which livestock loss would be tolerable (Stein et
al., 2010). Due to the fact that theft of livestock and poaching of wildlife were
reported by farmers in this study to be very memorable events, initial interviews with
farmers confirmed that they would be able to accurately recall instances of these
activities within the last 2 years. However, because of insufficient record keeping by
some of the farmers, it was not possible to quantify how many animals were thought
15 Axial coding, when used in grounded theory, refers to the deductive and inductive process where
themes are associated to each other
16 Open coding is where the researcher uses induction to look for distinct categories and concepts that
arise from the data
to be poached or stolen17, hence using binary variables. Data were analysed to search
for common themes that arose related to the farms that reported different degrees of
depredation, poaching or theft on farms.
To answer objective 2, further data analysis using open and axial coding of
emergent themes was undertaken to assess what social, economic or political factors
(if any) were mentioned by respondents to drive depredation, poaching and theft.
To answer objective 3, the skills audit from workers and farmers were analysed
in Minitab version 16 (Minitab, Coventry, UK). Respondent-assigned values for each
skill were tested against the overall median (as the data were not normally distributed)
of the entire skillset from all respondents within that group (either farmer, worker on
unemployed worker) using a one-way Wilcoxin signed rank test. A Kruskal-Wallis test
was used to test for a difference in medians between the self-assigned scores of
farmers, workers and unemployed workers. Significance was set at p = 0.05 for all
Several political, social and economic causes for conservation conflicts of carnivores on
Namibian commercial livestock farms emerged from the data. Deep-rooted drivers
created a multitude of problems, which contributed to a farm’s reported livestock
depredation (Fig. 4, Table 6). It appeared that the root anthropocentric driving force
behind this conservation conflict was the political history of the country. The
apartheid era resulted in an unequal distribution of resources, fuelling subsequent
problems: high unemployment, low minimum wages for farm workers, land tenure
disparity, and polarity in education levels between farmers and workers. These led to
micro socio-economic problems for farm workers, including receiving racist treatment,
substandard living and working conditions, absent or inadequate job training, few
incentives, and low job satisfaction. As a result, game poaching and livestock theft by
employees were common activities, which were thought to be acts of revenge for poor
treatment from the owners and as means to increase income and food supply. These
activities reportedly affected human-carnivore coexistence in three ways. Firstly,
17 It was also reported especially difficult to quantify the extent of poaching of wildlife on farms, as
farmers would not entirely be sure about a poaching event unless finding definite proof, e.g. a carcass
poaching was reported to reduce wild prey availability for carnivores, which may have
caused increased livestock depredation. Secondly, workers often blamed stolen
livestock on carnivores, which reportedly led to more carnivores killed by farmers:
“Definitely workers blame predators on theft - everything to them which is dead or
missing is either a cheetah or a leopard” – farmer, FR16. This was combined with the
fact that employees had inadequate workplace training coupled with a low motivation
to guard livestock from predators, leading to more livestock depredation. These
conflict-causing factors shall now be described in more detail.
5.4.1 Macro socio-economic problems
Disparity in resources (namely education, wages, land ownership and job
opportunities) - partly as a result of apartheid - fuelled poaching and theft on the farm.
High unemployment rates created a surplus of jobseekers with limited employment
options because of low education. Because of the labour surplus, farm workers were
not paid well (averaging US$71/month). The majority of farm workers reported it
being impossible to survive on the salaries paid, thus supplemented incomes
elsewhere, such as by stealing: “If you ask for help from your boss, such as a loan, but
the boss doesn't pay you, then you feel angry towards him, which is why you might
poach” – farm worker FW17.
A further macro-economic problem that affected the situation was the reported
shrinking profitability of livestock farming. Farmers often mentioned that livestock
feed, veterinary costs and fuel prices were continually rising whereas the market price
of livestock was unpredictable and did not rise with inflation. This suggests that
additional players at different scales (notably national and international policy makers)
affected farm systems. Many farmers responded by reducing staff numbers, despite
the same (or higher) workload, which stressed remaining workers who had to work
longer hours for less pay. Some farm duties were performed less frequently or
removed altogether (e.g. herding), which increased reported livestock depredation as
herds were not guarded from carnivores.
5.4.2 Micro socio-economic problems
Micro socio-economic problems, again predominantly caused by apartheid, created
various challenges on Namibian commercial livestock farms in this study. The most
clearly visible of these was the disparity in living conditions between farmers and
workers, which was reportedly due to a perception by the white farmers of differing
standards of living requirements for different ethnicities. This disparity irked workers,
who were frustrated at farmers for spending money on what the workers perceived to
be unnecessary, luxury items when farmers often told workers they could not afford to
pay them a higher salary or upgrade their housing18. One farm worker for example
had severe asthma, which was aggravated by the pig sty next to her house. She asked
the farmer to possibly fence her house off, but he responded "the pigs come first"
before the workers.
Figure 4. Social, political and economic drivers of human-carnivore conflict on
commercial farms in Namibia.
18 Most workers lived in metal shacks similar to garden sheds, whereas farmers tended to live in palatial
buildings, complete with swimming pools and guest housing
Table 6. Main themes that emerged from the data on the human dimensions that affected human-wildlife conflict on farms, with supporting quotes
from respondents who reported either more or less poaching, theft and depredation
Themes that influence human
wildlife conflict
Quotes from interviews
Farms with more reported poaching, theft and livestock
Farms with less reported poaching, theft and livestock
of labour
There are so many people without jobs that if a person
doesn't want to work for such a low salary, someone else will;
so the white people are still in power.” – farm worker, FW12
“There’s not enough employment in the country to get
another job, so I need to stay here.” – farm worker, FW1
Unequal resource
“If you ask for help from your boss, such as a loan, but the
boss doesn't pay you, then you feel angry towards him, which
is why you might poach.” – farm worker, FW6
“All of the th
efts are from inside information… Some farms
round here have a big problem with it… I think maybe
because the workers feel a sense of entitlement.” – farmer,
Lack of worker
“Those who have a better education go and work in the towns
because they get a better salary; it’s only the very uneducated
that go to work on farms.” – farmer, FR22
“One of the main reasons why poaching and theft goes on so
much is because the education system is broken; people in
public schools are shifted from grade to grade without
proper examination so that by the time they leave at grade
10 some can't even read or write. This means they're not
properly educated so can't get a good job, so many people
are unemployed. So to get by they need to steal or poach.”
– farmer, FR4
Decreasing profitability
of farming
“You farm with 4 people but in the past you have 10 people,
where are the other 6 people? They're not working now.
Where must they get food? From these guys who work, or by
stealing.” – farmer, FR5
“Many farmer
s believe it is cheaper to kill the carnivores
than spend money on labour.” - farmer, FR21
Disparity in living
“I live in a metal shack next to the pigs, which gives me
asthma. My boss lives in a 3-level mansion with a swimming
pool. It’s unfair.” – farm worker, FW18
“The last farm I worked on was nice. I had my own house,
TV, chickens, garden... Other farms I worked on it wasn’t like
that, so I didn’t care about my job as much.” – unemployed
farm worker, UF2
Racist treatment of
workers by farmers
“These vultures [workers] come from their nests [the
communal areas] to work for us… They’re bobbejaans
[Afrikaans for “baboons”] – farmer, FR12
“When you’re respected, you try harder, you look after the
herd better, you don’t want to annoy your boss.” –
unemployed farm worker, UF7
Ineffective worker
“I think that all workers sometime steal and kill livestock. I
would say 90% of people doing this is when there are a
dispute and the workers want revenge.” – farmer, FR7
“If you tr
eat your workers well they will not steal from you.”
– farm worker, FW2.
Ineffective livestock
“During lambing we don't count the sheep in order for not to
disturb the flock too much. We just move them to the next
camp and that's it. I can't tell you exact numbers of how
much, how many lambs did the jackal did eat” – farmer, FR20
“I lost a lot of livestock mainly to not paying enough
attention... I think from all the losses I had on the farm, 90%
was related to managed, 10% to predators. I spent 90% of
my time on trying to kill leopards and jackals. I then focused
on improving my management, and by doing that one, I
automatically addressed the problems of losses to
predators.” – farmer, FM2
Low salaries
“If you’re not paid enough, you have
to get meat from
somewhere.” – farm worker, FW20
“The farm workers nowadays, they need to have housing,
they need to have water, electricity there, they have social
security. I don't see that as a drawback; these things
improve staff morale so we have a more productive farm
with fewer losses to predators.” – farmer, FR2
Workers blamed
predators for stolen
“We would sometimes tell our boss that the jackals came in
the night to take the sheep away.” – unemployed farm
worker, UF18
“Workers can blam
e predators for livestock loss in theory,
but this doesn't happen on my farm. If a worker has told me
that a leopard has taken a calf, I need proof.” – farmer, FR16
Farm workers also admitted to stealing from employers because of racist and
unfair treatment; another consequence of apartheid. Many farmers, particularly those
that reported the most livestock depredation, were observed acting in a hostile and
dominating manner towards workers: “It is frustrating working with the black people.
White people have been in Africa since 1600s and still have to lead the blacks even
now” – farmer, FR3. Racism and poor treatment by these farmers annoyed their
workers, who were more inclined to resort to poaching and theft in retaliation, as well
as demotivating them to look after livestock effectively. One farmer who had a good
relationship with his workers said that “If you have a good relationship with your
workers, there is no theft or poaching” – FR4.
On top of the poor treatment, most workers interviewed, especially those on
farms where reported livestock depredation was the highest, had no vested interest in
farm productivity as they were not empowered to take control over the business.
They did not seem to care if predators killed livestock or poaching occurred because
there were no repercussions for them. To increase productivity and reduce the chance
of livestock depredation, one worker suggested offering part-ownership of farms or
some profits from livestock sales to workers. Many farmers, however, especially those
experiencing the most reported depredation, were against handing over any power to
workers: “once you do good to a worker, they will bite you” – farm manager, FM1.
Because of the poor living conditions, racist treatment and low salaries on most
farms, employees were frequently unhappy, and in particular those where poaching
and theft were reportedly more often (Table 6). A few farmers (mostly those who
were not adverse to the idea of empowering their workers) suggested that raising
wages would increase staff morale as they believed that the current wages were
currently too low. However, other farmers (notably those that did not want to
empower their workers) were against this idea as they did not believe workers
deserved a raise. Workers that were unhappy did not undertake tasks diligently and
instead left vulnerable livestock open to predation rather than checking on them
regularly, which reportedly led to increased livestock depredation.
As well as the challenges facing the workers, there were many aspects of
livestock management that increased reported livestock depredation. For example, on
farms where depredation was reportedly highest, livestock were sometimes not
counted for weeks or months at a time, which meant that farmers did not know how
many livestock were stolen, predated upon, or lost to other causes: “After maybe 2-3
years ago we've thought but it's the aardvark holes that is killing our calves. All the
time we thought it was the cheetah and the leopard, so the aardvark holes is the
predator!” – farmer, FR19. However, when counting finally did occur, predators were
usually accused for any losses on farms where managers were not so in tune with their
environment. Poor livestock management also resulted in increased theft: on one
farm, a farmer reported 12 cows stolen by a neighbour, which he blamed on himself
for not counting his cattle for over a month.
Bad management extended to the way workers were managed. Workers on
these poorly managed farms often complained about the negative, dictatorial style by
which farmers commanded their employees. Workers here were seen as objects to
exploit and dominate - similar to the livestock - in order to complete work: “You need
to control those people. That is, if you, if you are a person that can do that, that you
can keep them in straight lines and you are willing to control them properly, you will
have a more successful business” – farmer, FR12. These employees were therefore
not given any incentive to care for livestock properly, which sometimes resulted in
livestock being more vulnerable to predation.
5.4.3 Livestock depredation
Due to the aforementioned historical, political, social and economic factors, livestock
depredation was reportedly more severe on farms where workers felt that they were
not respected. A comparison between the conditions on the farms that reported less
livestock depredation, theft and poaching compared with more of these problems is
summarised in Table 7.
Respondents agreed that poaching and theft were often undertaken by workers
(“Usually there is at least one farm worker who is either an informant for the poachers
or is involved himself, especially if it is cattle being slaughtered. The people doing this
get all their information from the workers, as they know best about where the cattle
are.” – farm manager, FM2) and it was often thought that this was to supplement
income. Some of the more authoritarian farmers tried to limit these activities by firing
workers that they believed were involved or by taking perpetrators to the police.
Sometimes, however, a few of the more extreme farmers resorted to torturing or even
killing suspects19, which led to a significant adverse reaction amongst local communal
residents and spurred further poaching.
Workers involved with poaching and theft often told managers that missing
livestock and game animals were killed by carnivores, leading some farmers to believe
that carnivores were more of a problem on their farm than they were in reality (Table
6). However, a few of the more astute farmers were aware of this scapegoating tactic
and requested to see evidence of a predator attack such as carcasses or carnivore
tracks: “You need to show me the bones or the vultures because this cat looks like it
walk on two feet, not four” – farmer, FR1. On one farm visited, for example, workers
complained that wildcats were attacking goats. The farmer confronted the workers,
saying that the predator looked like he walked on two feet, not four; after this, no
more goats were reported by workers to have been killed by wildcats.
5.4.4 Skills Audit
As a consequence of bad farm management, farmers were not able to create a
productive work force. According to results from the skills audits, both the farmers
and their workers lacked key skills required to undertake their jobs effectively on farms
that experienced more livestock depredation. The farmers were not adequately
trained in human resource management: this absence of training created problems on
the farm as they did not know how to handle their workers properly. Many farmers
were, however, not interested in learning this skill, as they believed that it took time
away from farming, despite having to manage between 4-30 members of staff. One
farmer who had a relatively good relationship with his workers noted the lack of
human resource skills by farmers, “which creates problems on the farm as they don't
know how to handle their workers properly” – FR7. Substandard management skills
were thought to exacerbate bad relations between the farmer and the workers, as
many farmers did not know how to motivate their workers to increase their
19 Reports of violence towards farm workers were discussed in Namibian newspapers (Menges, 2013;
The Namibian, 2013)
Table 7. Conditions experienced by farm workers on commercial livestock farms in
Namibia in relation to how this affects reported poaching, theft and depredation
Worker conditions on farms with less
reported poaching, theft, livestock
Worker conditions on farms with more
reported poaching, theft, livestock
Higher salary Lower salary
Higher job satisfaction Lower job satisfaction
Better living conditions Poorer living conditions
More respected by farmer Less respected by farmer
Longer job retention and turnover Short job retention and fast turnover
Received more training from farmer Received less training from farmer
Motivated/incentivised to excel Not motivated/incentivised to excel
Farmer did not threaten worker Farmer threatened worker verbally or
For example, the skills audits demonstrated that farmers scored themselves
significantly lower (median = 2.5) both on how to motivate workers and how to
improve worker happiness than the median scores of other skills (median = 2.7, W =
0.15, p = 0.011). The only motivation farmers spoke of using on their workers was
negative reinforcement, such as threats or dismissal. Despite farmers appreciating the
clear link between having workers who performed well with the productivity of the
farm, there was no recorded instance of farmers using positive reinforcement to
encourage good performance. The cause of unproductiveness, according to the
farmers, was due to the workers being inherently unreliable, untrustworthy,
uneducated and underdeveloped, rather than farmers themselves appreciating their
responsibility for improving the capacity of their workers. In many cases, these
negative attitudes towards workers again appeared to be the result of underlying
racist and dominating tendencies: “There is a fine line between how much you allow
them to think for themselves.” – farm manager, FM1.
In the skills audit for the employed farm workers, respondents rated themselves
significantly lower on knowing how to protect livestock when predators were present
(median = 2.2) compared with an overall test median of 2.45 (W = 29.0, p = 0.002).
Farm workers also rated themselves significantly lower than the overall median scores
on knowledge of livestock health (median = 1.8, W = 42.0, p = 0.006). Livestock in poor
health could be more susceptible to carnivore predation as they would not be as fit to
escape. This, along with the concurrent low score from farmers on human resource
skills, may together explain some of the main underlying causes for why effective
livestock husbandry was not undertaken on farms to reduce depredation.
During the interviews and skills audit, it became apparent that the majority of farm
workers (particularly those on farms that experienced a lot of livestock depredation)
lacked not only a basic understanding of livestock husbandry, but also only had
rudimentary literacy and numeracy skills. The farm owners interviewed, however,
often did not want their employees trained any further as they were worried that the
workers may leave for a better job or ask for a higher salary once trained. Farmers
complained about the lack of skilled workers available and yet were not willing to
invest in training workers or paying a higher salary for those that had completed
training courses. As livestock workers were the most uneducated sector of society in
Namibia, this was thought to hinder their ability to learn additional skills. Working on
a farm was seen as a last resort to those that had not completed secondary (or even
primary) education. Poor education systems were thought to cause further problems
down the line, such as increased livestock depredation, as workers sometimes did not
even know how to properly count the livestock so could not confirm if any herd
members had been left behind in a previous grazing camp.
This is the first known study to uncover the effects of power differentials, governance
and racism on farms in relation to livestock depredation. It highlights the previously-
noted finding that negative human-wildlife interactions are primarily driven by
complex social factors that affect how people perceive each other (Madden &
McQuinn, 2014), in addition to how people perceive predators (Dickman, 2010). This
study is, however, unique as it demonstrates that workplace relations and the political
history of a country affected the level of perceived livestock depredation on farms.
In this study, poaching usually involved farm workers in some way, a finding that
has also been noted in neighbouring Zimbabwe (du Toit, 1994). In Malawi, stock theft
has been attributed as form of resistance by the poor against rich landowners
(Malekano, 2000); this was also thought to be the main cause of poaching in Victorian
Britain too, where poaching subsided as job security and education improved for the
economically disadvantaged (Jones 1979). The main reason for undertaking poaching
and livestock theft in this study was reportedly due to unequal resource distribution,
the most important resource of which was income. The average wage for livestock
employees interviewed in this study was 41% lower than the average Namibian
monthly salary (Namibia Statistics Agency, 2012). This is a very low wage to survive on
in Namibia and is therefore not surprising that workers resorted to alternative income
sources to supplement salaries. Furthermore, minimum wage for farm workers had
not changed in Namibia since 2004 up until the end of this study’s data collection, so
despite a 17% increase in food prices (Minde, Chilonda, & Sally, 2008), workers had an
income deficit. In other societies, poachers have sometimes been regarded as Robin
Hoods of their community - stealing from the rich and redistributing back to the poor
(Child, Musengez, Parent, & Child, 2012). It is possible that such a scenario was also
present on these farms in Namibia.
Along with the low salaries paid to workers, a lack of employee empowerment
also added to worker dissatisfaction. Previous research in South Africa has
demonstrated that farm workers who were given greater job responsibility were more
productive, had longer job retention, and increased farm profitability (Eckert,
Hamman, & Lombard, 1996). Namibia may do well to follow this example. Farmers in
this study, however, appeared reluctant to relinquish any form of control of their
“kingdom” (farmer FR5) to their workers. Employees often felt trapped as they were
not able to find employment elsewhere due to having a low skillset, which has also
been noted in South Africa (Robertson, 1988). They were thus “caught in a cycle of
dependency and poverty” (Republic of Namibia, 1997: 227), solely reliant on the
farmer for food, shelter, wages, and healthcare provision (Sylvain, 2001).
Some farmers’ racist, exploitative treatment of their workers was also noted as a
cause for retributive actions that then increased perceived livestock depredation.
Previous research in Namibia has highlighted the poor treatment of indigenous
employees by settler farm owners (Suzman, 2001; Sylvain, 2001) where “workers lived
under constant fears of either physical or verbal abuse and of arbitrary dismissal”
(Karamata, 2006: 7). Derogatory, demeaning communication from some farmers
angered workers, who were more likely retaliate, such as poaching game and stealing
livestock. They were also less likely to care about looking after the livestock,
reportedly leading to more livestock depredation.
Previous research into the causes of human-carnivore coexistence has indicated
that insufficient education of farmers and workers increased livestock depredation
(Mwathe, 2007; Schumann et al., 2012). This was also found in the current study, as
workers did not understand the need to undertake certain husbandry techniques
known to reduce predation. A further factor related to education that has previously
been noted in other studies is that farmers incorrectly blamed predators for lost
livestock as they were not aware of the real cause of death (Marker-Kraus, Kraus, &
Hurlbut, 1996; Mizutani & Muthiani, 2005); this was also found in the current study.
Education into livestock husbandry for the workers and into the correct cause of death
for farmers could help reduce real and perceived livestock depredation (Marker et al.,
2003). However, the problem may still persist if underlying racist and inequality issues
are not addressed. As such, this conflict fits the description of a “wicked” problem
(Rittel & Webber, 1973) where there are no easy solutions due to the inherent and
unique complexity of the problem.
Improving coexistence between livestock farmers and carnivores is thus
extremely difficult because of this entangled mess of underlying drivers that cannot be
completely resolved solely by mitigating the direct causes of depredation. Although
technical solutions such as guarding dogs (Rust et al., 2013), fences (Rust et al., 2015),
and herders (Rust & Marker, 2014) reduce depredation, they will not eliminate this
problem in the long-term (Inskip et al., 2013). This is because many drivers of conflict
found in this study were due to the ways in which livestock were managed, which was
heavily influenced by the farmer-worker relationship and the political history of the
country. If racism, domination and exploitation continue, workers will have little
motivation to undertake jobs effectively to protect livestock from predators. Although
progress has been made in improving human-carnivore coexistence in many areas of
the world (Hazzah et al., 2014; Rust et al., 2013; Zabel & Holm-Muller, 2008), we would
do well to appreciate the complexity of the factors that are influencing this situation
(Madden & McQuinn, 2014) before jumping in with quick fixes.
One limitation to this research is the fact that the interviews relied on
respondents being open and honest, which could be difficult to achieve with a foreign
interviewer during a one-hour interview. Whilst this was less of an issue during
participant observation (due to the length of time immersed in the community), the
interviews with the unemployed workers in particular did not involve significant time
to build rapport and trust with these respondents. However, interviews were
undertaken privately and confidentially to improve frank discussion, and interviews
were undertaken only after spending a full day informally meeting with the
respondents to build a relationship with them. That said, nervous or untrusting
respondents may withhold sensitive information for fear of negative repercussions
(such as information from the interview being used against them for job
opportunities). To overcome this possibility, future research should be supplemented
with data collection methods specifically designed for asking sensitive questions, such
as the Randomised Response Technique (Nuno & St John, 2014).
This research has demonstrated the relationship between farmers and worker on
commercial livestock farms in Namibia heavily influenced perceived livestock
depredation. When this relationship worked well, farms were managed productively
and employees had higher job satisfaction. These employees worked harder and
undertook more effective livestock husbandry, which reduced the likelihood of
livestock going missing, both to predators and by other means. Happy employees
were treated with respect and paid a liveable wage; when they were not, they did not
perform well at their job, which sometimes resulted in revenge tactics, such as stealing
livestock or poaching game, both of which could increase the likelihood of perceived
livestock depredation. As such, Namibian farms:
“are not simply places of work… [T]hey are individual arenas in which power
games of control and subjugation between worker and employer…are the daily norms
of life in an extremely complex setting” (O’Conchuir 1997; cited in Husy & Samson,
2001: 25).
Far from this particular human-wildlife conflict being a linear problem of
carnivores killing livestock and farmers then killing carnivores, this research has shown
complex socio-economic and political underlying drivers of the problem that are
deeply embedded in the human dimension. In Namibia, if conflict between humans
and carnivores is to be mitigated, the conflict between farmers and workers must first
be addressed.
Negative interactions between carnivores and humans remain one of the most
important factors affecting the recovery of carnivore populations globally (Rosie
Woodroffe et al., 2005). Previous attempts to improve coexistence between people
and carnivores have predominantly focused on reducing real and perceived damage
caused by carnivores (e.g. Marker, Mills, & Macdonald, 2003; Rust, Nghikembua,
Kasser, & Marker, 2015; Rust, Whitehouse-Tedd, & MacMillan, 2013). Whilst many of
these methods have had clear benefits to both people and predators, it is widely
regarded that carnivore damage is still increasing in many areas of the world (Karanth,
2002; Mech, 1998; Treves et al., 2002) and it has recently been suggested that focusing
on reducing costs is not enough to improve tolerance and behaviour towards
carnivores (Skogen, 2015). It is therefore crucial that we revise the ways in which this
problem is conceptualised and managed (Dickman, 2008).
Recent research has proposed that so-called “conflict” between humans and
carnivores is often driven by complex social, political, cultural, economic and
psychological factors (Bruskotter & Wilson, 2014; Dickman, 2008; Inskip et al., 2013;
Johansson & Karlsson, 2011; Madden & McQuinn, 2014; Marchini & Macdonald, 2012).
To improve tolerance and behaviour towards carnivores, education has been
suggested as a way to help change the way in which people perceive these predators
(Marker et al., 2003), but this alone may not be sufficient to alter the deep-rooted
psychological factors associated with tolerance (Karlsson & Johansson, 2010). We
therefore must begin to rethink human-carnivore coexistence, paying particular
attention towards the inherent intricacy of the problem (Madden & McQuinn, 2014).
Because human-carnivore interactions are often complex to understand due to
these hidden human dimensions of the problem (Dickman, 2012; Madden & McQuinn,
2014), researchers have recently been utilising qualitative and mixed-methods social
science methods more frequently to analyse conservation conflicts more in-depth and
have found new insights into the problem drivers (e.g. Inskip, Fahad, Tully, Roberts, &
Macmillan, 2014; Ogra, 2008; Skogen, Mauz, & Krange, 2008). This current research
therefore took a mixed-methods approach to understand human-carnivore
coexistence in Namibia. The aims of this research were to explore the human
dimensions affecting coexistence between carnivores and livestock farmers on
commercial farmland.
The results of this thesis have shown that achieving coexistence with carnivores in
Namibia is complicated and is affected by many underlying human dimensions, most of
which were related in some way to the previous apartheid regime.
Chapter 3 explored participatory decision-making. Previous research has
proposed that conflict mitigation schemes have historically failed partly due to
insufficient participation with affected interest groups in the planning and
implementation of interventions (Goldman et al., 2013; McLaughlin, Primm, &
Rutherford, 2005; Redpath et al., 2013). To date, there have been no published
participatory decision-making exercises conducted in southern Africa on how to
manage carnivores on unprotected lands. The results from Chapter 3 have
demonstrated for the first time that a majority agreement could be reached between
different stakeholder groups in Namibia on how to manage this problem, i.e. through
education in predator conservation and training on livestock husbandry. These two
techniques have previously both been effective at reducing conflict. This highlights
new evidence that an acceptable and effective solution could be agreed upon by
diverse stakeholders, but also shows that there were two narratives held by different
participants; one group preferred lethal methods to control carnivores, and the other
preferred non-lethal methods. An additional novel aspect of this research was the
development of a new method for undertaking participatory decision-making.
Chapter 4 explored media framing of financial incentives to improve human-
carnivore coexistence. The way in which the media portray a mitigation scheme may
influence its acceptance but no research has been conducted to understand the media
coverage of carnivore conflict mitigation techniques. This study was the first to
understand how the media covered the use of financial incentives to reduce negative
interactions between humans and carnivores. It demonstrated that the way in which
compensation was framed depended on whether someone had first-hand experience
with compensation. This suggests that although there was widespread interest in
using compensation to improve human-carnivore interactions, attitudes often turned
ambivalent or negative upon experience with this financial scheme. Furthermore, this
study corroborates previous findings on the mixed success of conservancies for
improving human-carnivore coexistence (Rust & Marker, 2013, 2014) and confirms
that for market-based incentives to be effective at improving tolerance to damage-
causing animals, benefits must be distributed equally amongst those affected
(Mulonga & Murphy, 2003; Walpole & Goodwin, 2001). Lastly, this chapter suggests
that certain stakeholder groups have dominated newspaper coverage of carnivore
mitigation schemes, which may have biased the framing of incentives for their benefit.
Chapter 5 explored possible hidden drivers of livestock depredation. Madden
and McQuinn (2014) proposed that conservation conflicts are influenced by underlying
social, economic and political factors that are often not considered in conventional
mitigation schemes. There have, however, been limited empirical studies exploring
these hidden dimensions (Dickman, 2010). Indeed no study to date has considered
these factors when analysing human-carnivore coexistence in Namibia. I took a
qualitative approach to understand whether these human dimensions were affecting
perceived livestock depredation on commercial livestock farms. Similar to the findings
of Inskip et al. (2013), this study has confirmed that there are many political, social and
economic factors that affect how people perceive and act towards carnivores, but this
study is the first to discover an even deeper layer - the complex relationship between
farmers and their workers on commercial livestock farms in Namibia, which heavily
influenced the amount of reported livestock depredation. Following on from this,
another novel finding in this chapter was that both poaching and livestock theft were
integral drivers of perceived carnivore conflict on commercial farms, both of which
were affected by the farmer-worker relationship. This study has therefore confirmed
the importance of understanding human relationships and how these affect farm and
wildlife management.
More widely, this thesis has revealed that the country’s political history has
influenced human-carnivore coexistence. Previous studies have shown that historical
land management and wildlife governance influences present-day attitudes towards
wildlife (Constant, 2014; Fairet, 2012; Williams, 2011), but this study is unique in that it
has shown that the political history outside of these spheres – particularly related to
colonisation of the country – has affected current attitudes towards carnivores. In his
seminal book “Predator Bureaucracy”, Michael Robinson identified that political
history of the US influenced recent attitudes and behaviour towards wolves (Robinson,
2005); history is therefore important to understand when considering whether events
from the past affect current perceptions towards carnivores (Hazzah & Dolrenry,
2007); it is thus recommended that future human-carnivore coexistence studies delve
more thoroughly into the history of the situation, both including how carnivores were
previously managed and how social and political history may have affected present-
day management.
6.3.1 Carnivore conservation is about people
Throughout this thesis, I have shown that the “human-wildlife conflict” between
carnivores and livestock farmers is affected by deeply complex human dimensions. It
may therefore be advisable, as others have recently suggested (Hill, 2015; Redpath,
Bhatia, et al., 2015), to rephrase “human-wildlife conflict” differently, and instead refer
to it as a “human-human conflict over wildlife”, or more concisely, a “conservation
conflict”. This will take the emphasis away from an assumed or implied direct
antagonism between people and wildlife and instead focus it on the more common
cause of the tension, i.e. due to differing opinions on how to manage biodiversity.
More deeply, this point touches on the idea that semantics matter: how
something is phrased can influence how people perceive it. By polarising the debate
between humans and wildlife, we could be inadvertently inflaming the situation (Hill,
2015; Peterson, Birckhead, Leong, Peterson, & Peterson, 2010). Conservationists
should therefore be extremely cautious and reflexive with the terminology they
choose to use as this could have unanticipated consequences.
This does not mean to say that conservation is or should only be about people.
Indeed, understanding the ecological requirements for threatened species is also
essential for effective incorporation into species’ conservation plans. However,
changes in a conservation status of a species is often less pinned on the ecology of a
species and more on the possible human drivers of biodiversity loss. For example, of
the major threats to felids globally, governance, economics and human population
growth were deemed by one study to be the most important priorities for their
conservation (Dickman, Hinks, Macdonald, Burnham, & Macdonald, 2015). Whilst the
natural history of carnivores - particularly the fact that they are rare, require large
home ranges and occupy high trophic levels – clearly affects the success of
conservation interventions and must be addressed, the efficacy of conservation
interventions particularly in unprotected areas also depends on mitigating the human-
caused threats (Treves & Karanth, 2003). For instance, the main cause of unsuccessful
Namibian cheetah and leopard reintroductions was due to purposeful and accidental
killing of carnivores by humans (Weise, Stratford, et al., 2014); the biology of these
species only accounted for a minority of deaths. Furthermore, I searched for the
number of articles written about carnivores during the last year that had been
published in the journals Conservation Biology and Biological Conservation and found
that 52 out of the 101 (51%) articles considered any human dimensions threatening
these species – the remainder were purely ecological studies. Whilst this is a higher
proportion than may have been seen a decade ago, it does still indicate that half of
research projects ignore the human dimensions of carnivore conservation. Whilst
ecological studies are important in their own right, conservation is almost exclusively
needed because of the actions of humans. Thus conservation journals should make a
more concerted effort to integrate human dimensions research into ecological
Additionally, through my professional experience working in carnivore conservation
organisations and consortiums across southern Africa, I noted that most individuals
working in this field came from natural science backgrounds. Although there was
emphasis by many of these organisations to address the human-caused threats to
these species, their efforts may arguably have been more successful had they
employed social scientists that had the experience and knowledge to guide
interventions on human behaviour appropriately. Indeed, as Bruskotter and Shelby
(2010: 312) rightly pointed out:
20 Although noting the possible constraints of external factors such as funding may influence the topics
“Managers would not think of making controversial decisions about
endangered species without data on such factors as abundance, distribution,
and recruitment, yet appear quite comfortable making assumptions about
human values, attitudes, and behaviors that are at least as important to the
long-term success of conservation efforts”.
A further and associated aspect that this social science research has highlighted
is the multitude of different human actors that were able to influence how carnivores
were managed outside of protected areas in Namibia. This suggests that for
conservation interventions to be successful, all actors should be actively involved with
management – from the farm workers that were integral in enacting on-the-ground
changes on farms right up to the government officials that set the policies that
ultimately affected farm management decisions. However, trying to integrate these
diverse actors into a conservation intervention is unlikely to be easy.
6.3.2 Is participation the holy grail of conservation interventions?
Participation is ‘‘a process in which individuals take part in decision making in the
institutions, programs, and environments that affect them’’ (Heller, Price, Riger,
Reinharz, & Wandersman, 1984, p 339). It has been heralded by some as the key to
engaging landholders in productive wildlife management (Allen, Kilvington, & Horn,
2002). Indeed, the infamous community-based conservation model is built upon the
premise of active commitment of the local community to manage their natural
resources. Consensus building is a form of participatory decision making where
“people who will be affected by a decision work together to develop a solution that
meets as many of their individual and collective interests as possible” (Moore &
Woodrow, 1999: 599). Chapter 3 has indicated that using a majority consensus to
decide on how to mitigate conflict may not be sufficient to adequately resolve the
problem between people and carnivores, as minority viewpoints of some participants
were neglected. This could exacerbate conflict between stakeholder if minority groups
feel that their opinions have not been considered in potential mitigation schemes
(Clark et al., 2014; Goldman et al., 2010). This alludes to the idea that, whilst they are
heavily recommended, using participatory approaches to reach agreement between a
diverse group of people may have its challenges.
During the last few decades, consensus building has risen in popularity as a
potential way to solve problems effectively and cooperatively. However, it is not
without its challenges: it has been mentioned by others (Fisher, Ury, & Patton, 2011;
Leach, 2006) that if participants in minority groups do not feel that their opinions are
being addressed, they can leave negotiations to use other methods to obtain what
they want, such as litigation. If only a majority agreement is required, power is placed
with the majority (as with voting systems); however, if a unanimous consensus is
required, power is held with the minority, as just one participant could gridlock the
entire process (Schlager & Blomquist, 2000). It is therefore clear that the structure and
rules of a decision-making exercise can dictate how power is shared between the
participants. Consensus building may not be the ideal method to use alone when the
aim is to reach decisions on complex and contentious topics such as conservation
conflicts, as the disagreements between those that agreed with lethal control
compared with those who were against it has proven to be somewhat intractable in
this study, as has been seen in other disciplines (Coglianese, 1999; Colyvan, Justus, &
Regan, 2011). However, reaching consensus is not the only desired outcome from this
method and the process itself can be equally as important (Connick & Innes, 2003).
As well as consensus building, other forms of participatory decision-making
have their advantages and disadvantages. Participation can sometimes be “difficult,
time-consuming, and tricky; it can permit elites or free riders to get more than their
fair share; it can stir up conflicts that traditional society and culture have been able to
keep under wraps; it can alienate governments; and so on” (Dichter, 1992: 89). Other
challenges include:
1. that some rural communities have insecure natural resource tenure (making it
hard for them to have a legal say in how resources are managed),
2. possible apathy in or aversion to conservation itself or the stakeholders
involved in conservation mean that some individuals might not want to
3. potentially large ethnic and cultural diversity amongst different stakeholders,
which may be difficult to manage when trying to deal with the different values,
experiences, knowledge and attitudes of all involved (Noss, 1997).
This last point can be particularly problematic as certain groups may be more
powerful, have more influence and receive more benefits than others, which threatens
the inclusiveness of the process.
Chapter 3 was loosely based upon the idea that deliberating over a problem
can improve a decision (Habermas, 1984), as the Delphi technique required
deliberation over the three rounds. Deliberation is the process of spending time
thinking about a problem, the different ways to resolve it, devising a rational solution
and justifying this decision (Elwyn, Frosch, Volandes, Edwards, & Montori, 2010).
Arguably one of its strongest advantages is that it can create an environment for
individuals to analytically process various options for overcoming a problem, which
may then result in the participant choosing the most suitable result. That said,
agreement might not be reached amongst the stakeholders that hold polarised
viewpoints (Moote, Mcclaran, & Chickering, 1997), which could create a deadlock in
decision making.
Although participation can act to reduce power differentials between
stakeholders, collaboration between people can also replicate and exacerbate these
imbalances (White, 2000). Furthermore, finding common ground on wildlife
management options may be hard because the benefits and costs of wildlife presence
are not equally spread throughout the stakeholder groups (Treves, Wallace, &
Naughton-Treves, 2006). Stakeholders may become less engaged if the process is
perceived to be unnecessarily long and there are no apparent benefits (Reed, 2008).
Some stakeholders may find certain aspects of the process difficult to participate in
due to the technical expertise required to meaningfully engage (Fischer & Young,
2007). Additionally, if certain actors have overriding power over decisions, many
stakeholders can become disinterested in participating (Broad et al., 2007). In this
research, like Rigg’s study of herders (Robin Rigg, 2002), I found that farm workers
influenced the degree of perceived livestock depredation experience on farms and
were therefore important actors in carnivore conservation. However, it is unlikely that
the farmer would be willing to acknowledge the opinions of the workers on the farms
where there are poor staff relations, despite participatory methods aiming to reduce
these power differentials.
Regardless, participatory decision-making is not only used to reach an
agreement. Indeed previous research has shown that there are many positive
outcomes of the process (Innes & Booher, 1999); sometimes the aim is to build a
shared understanding within stakeholder groups or to provide a voice to groups that
ordinarily have little power to enact change (Innes, 2004). However, as the majority of
African wildlife populations are found outside protected areas (Caro, 2001; Krugmann,
2001; Western, Russell, & Cuthil, 2009), it is imperative for the future of wildlife
conservation that landholders become actively engaged in biodiversity management.
Possibly one of the only ways for long-term, meaningful engagement with landholders
is to establish positive collaborative efforts involving all parties and develop ways of
working together in a constructive manner to achieve shared goals and benefits
(Jackson, 2015; McLaughlin et al., 2005) – as difficult as this may be.
6.3.3 Economic incentives can help conservation but are not a silver bullet
Results from this research have shown that economic incentives can be a motivation to
help change an individual’s behaviour, but I have also demonstrated that this is not the
sole motivator for people to engage in conservation activities. In Chapter 3,
participants did not believe many economic incentives would help improve human-
carnivore interactions, particularly in regards to those incentives administered by the
government. Participants were, however, more amenable to private, market-based
instruments such as trophy hunting, but less interested in photographic tourism as
they often preferred peace and solitude over income from tourism. Chapter 4
reiterated these points and underlined the fact that compensation does not always
increase tolerance towards carnivores. Chapter 5 showed that although money is an
important part in improving worker job satisfaction, other factors such as respect and
equality were important too. These findings together highlight that money can help
improve situations but should not be relied upon exclusively because there are other,
sometimes stronger, drivers of individual behaviour (Myers & Diener, 1996).
Furthermore, there is sometimes21 an unclear relationship between reported attitudes
and actual behaviour - and indeed there are other important factors involved in
influencing behaviour, such as social norms, perceived behavioural control and values
(Ajzen, 1991; Fazio, 1986; Winterbach, Winterbach, Somers, & Hayward, 2012). This
21 But not always (St John et al., 2012)
loose connection may affect the success of economic incentives because some
individuals may report that their attitudes have improved since an economic incentive
scheme has been implemented but this might not translate into positive behavioural
change, such as a reduction in killing of predators. Conversely, some individuals may
report negative attitudes towards predators but this may not then be reflected in
negative behaviour towards these species (Liu et al., 2011).
Individuals might undertake actions not purely because of financial incentives,
but because of more deep-rooted social or psychological reasons that cannot be easily
changed by offering money (MacMillan & Phillip, 2010). For example, livestock
farmers in Brazil killed jaguars Panthera onca because of the thrill of the hunt and
because this activity was seen as cultural tradition (Marchini & Macdonald, 2012). If
the conservation goal is to cease killing of carnivores, it may be socially unacceptable
to offer money; even if payment was accepted, this may not be enough of an incentive
to stop landholders from cheating their contract by killing carnivores clandestinely if
the behaviour is heavily ingrained in their society (Zabel & Holm-Muller, 2008).
Furthermore, the underlying basis for offering payment to reduce the negative
externalities of living with wildlife may be built upon the false premise that it is only
the direct economic cost of wildlife that drives conflict. Other factors such as
emotional, cultural and political values could be more important to individuals than
their economic values (MacMillan & Phillip, 2010; Montag, 2003). Therefore offering
payments to change behaviour may not create long-term behavioural change.
Disincentives too such as fines are unlikely to be completely effective at changing
behaviour when the aim is to eliminate poaching. This is because the poachers like
those noted in Chapter 5 were often forced into a life of illegal hunting due to suffering
from intense poverty with no other economic alternatives (Knapp, 2012)22. They were
also motivated by other non-monetary drivers, such as revenge. Thus, economic
disincentives may not lead to reduced poaching and could also increase tension
between workers and farmers. Indeed, some unemployed farm workers interviewed
in Chapter 5 revealed that they only poached wildlife from a farm after they had been
22 Although noting that not all poachers globally come from lower socio-economic groups
A further problem with economic incentives is corruption. Many nations suffer
from varying degrees of corruption in multiple layers of society, particularly those in
developing nations where governance is weak or transitional (Rose-Ackerman, 1999).
Government or community administration of payments may create situations
amenable to corruption (Smith & Walpole, 2005). For example, the Communal Areas
Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) scheme in Zimbabwe
that aimed to improve conservation of wildlife by conferring property rights to local
communities failed partly due to the corruption amongst senior and local government
officials (David Hulme & Murphree, 2001). Revenue did not usually filter down to the
community level, which created tension between the local communities and the
governing bodies, and weakened the incentive for locals to protect wildlife. There is
the potential for local elites to capture revenue at the expense of the rest of the
community, the latter of whom are often more vulnerable to the negative effects of
carnivores (Zabel & Holm-Muller, 2008).
Some general recommendations to improve the effectiveness of economic
incentives used for carnivore conservation in developing countries include the
1. Incentivise groups of cohesive landholders to collectively sign up to schemes;
2. Base payment on part-action, part-result;
3. Find easy-to-monitor variables to track the efficacy of schemes (this can be
especially difficult with monitoring rare and illusive carnivores in Africa);
4. Collect baseline data on target carnivore populations prior to implementation
and compare this to values during intervention, whilst contrasting this to a
control region;
5. Use adaptive management to respond to changing circumstances;
6. Schedule payments at times of most need, e.g. before school fees are due;
7. Base the form of payment (in-kind, cash or mixture) on both the needs of the
individuals and the ability to create the most beneficial change;
8. Ensure active stakeholder participation in planning and implementation of
schemes to improve local acceptance and compliance;
9. Ensure schemes are long-lasting e.g. a minimum term of 10 years;
10. In areas of greatest conservation need, increase participation by providing
more attractive incentives and social marketing campaigns;
11. Use a mixture of direct and indirect incentives and (more sparingly)
disincentives, picked specifically for the context;
12. Diversify funding sources to ensure financial sustainability and secure finances
over the long-term before schemes are implemented;
13. Combine with actions to utilise social norms to reduce acceptability of
environmentally damaging behaviour;
14. Monitor attitudes of participants before and during schemes; invite suggestions
for improvement to ensure participants are retained over the long-term.
It is clear from this research that there is no single economic incentive that can be
effectively used for carnivore conservation in every context, even within Namibia; all
methods have their strengths and weaknesses. The efficacy of incentive schemes,
whether direct or indirect, will depend upon the situation in which they are used. The
most sustainable methods to improve landholders’ behaviour towards wildlife are
likely to include a context-specific assemblage of financial, economic, social and
psychological incentives used in combination with other tools such as education.
Together, these methods could promote the most significant change for the most
number of individuals.
6.3.4 Socio-psychological theory
Chapters 1 and 5 of this thesis have hinted towards the idea that there appear
to be complex socio-psychological factors that govern how people perceive each other
as well as how they perceive predators. This could be influenced by one’s mind-set
towards dominating others. A possible way of explaining how and why people
dominate others is through the Pathway to Domination, described by Val Plumwood
(2003). This is based upon ecological feminist theory, which is understood as “the
position that there are important connections - historical, symbolic, theoretical -
between the domination of women and the domination of nonhuman nature”
(Warren, 1990: 342). It is possible that the historical oppression of certain humans and
nonhumans has shaped the perceptions and behaviours of people in today’s society,
which could affect the treatment of these “out-groups”. This Pathway to Domination
seems to follow a similar, well-established route, previously noted in various other
disciplines when describing the exploitation of women, different cultures and
domesticated animals (Joy, 2011; Morelli, 2001; Plumwood, 2003; Ponsonby, 1928) but
equally important to describe exploitation of other out-groups.
Plumwood’s Pathway to Domination builds on the psychological theory of
moral exclusion, whereby one group believes it is dominant to others and uses various
means to enact this superiority, such as marginalisation, exclusion and torture
(Opotow, 1990). The first step in this process begins with differentiating oneself from
that which is to be dominated. Psychologists commonly believe that stereotypes,
prejudices and discrimination are caused by individuals in an in-group thinking of
themselves as more intelligent, worthy or moral than those in an out-group (Crompton
& Kasser, 2009). This out-group (the “Other”) is deemed inferior in some way, such as
being less valuable or necessary (Jeong, 2008); women, for example, have been
oppressed by the men who stereotyped women as emotional, animalistic and weak,
and themselves as rational, cultural and intelligent (Plumwood, 2004). Similarly, black
Africans were considered by the oppressors as under-evolved, unintelligent, wild
savages and predators were thought of as cruel, heartless beasts (Beinart, 2012;
JanMohamed, 1983; Pinto, 2011).
The next step in this pathway is to exaggerate these differences whilst denying
any form of commonality (Plumwood, 2003). Black Africans, particularly the San
(Suzman, 2001), were often regarded as subhuman, whereas carnivores were
considered useless in nature. Once stereotyped, the oppressed is homogenised
(Plumwood, 1993), such that all black Africans were regarded as one singular entity
(the “blacks”) and all predator species were considered threats to livestock (“vermin”).
After this comes exclusion, which can be conducted through various means, such as
physically (in the forms of fences and reserves for both human and nonhuman
animals), linguistically (such as the German and Afrikaans languages used as the official
languages in Namibian schools and governments to which black Africans could not
initially understand) or resource-based (such as livestock and land being taken from
black Africans, or habitat and prey being taken from predators).
Following this exclusion, the oppressed then begins to assimilate an inferior
being purely because of the domination tactics employed by the One. This reinforces
the in-group’s beliefs and stereotypes of the Other, spurring further subjugation, as
the dominating force believes it is morally justified in acting in a demeaning manner
towards the perceived inferior (Jeong, 2008). The result is a polarisation of the two
beings, where the exploiters lack any empathy towards the exploited (Haddad, 2000).
By this final point, subjugation of the Other is deemed normal, natural and necessary:
just as patriarchalism, slavery and carnism23 have historically been morally justified, so
too was (and is) speciesism (Joy, 2011).
This “Otherness” ascribed to certain groups of humans and to other animals
has been described elsewhere (Adams & Donovan, 1999; Cudworth & Hobden, 2014),
although not specifically related to predators. There is thus great potential for future
work to study this growing area of socio-psychological research to understand whether
this process does indeed explain why certain individuals dominate and control other
groups (particularly towards wild species).
There have already been a number of studies that focus on understanding the
socio-psychological processes that create in-groups and out-groups. For example,
there appears to be a link between how individuals treat out-group humans and how
they treat non-human animals. A link has previously been highlighted between
individuals expressing concern over worker welfare and of concern over farmed
animals (Deemer, 2009), as well as an association between rejecting similarities
between humans and other animals and scoring higher in Social Dominance
Orientation, SDO (Costello & Hodson, 2010). Thus projects that target improving
worker welfare could potentially concurrently improve welfare towards livestock and
even wild predator species. Research from Europe shows that individuals with higher
SDO also tend to eat more meat and be more accepting of exploiting animals, as well
as believing that vegetarianism is a threat and that humans are superior to non-human
animals (Dhont & Hodson, 2014). By emphasising the similarities of non-human
23 Carnism can be thought of as the opposite of veganism, i.e. the ideology that conditions people to eat
some species of animals
animals to humans, individuals who previously held dominating views towards an out-
group have been shown to be more empathetic and less prejudice towards out-groups
(Costello & Hodson, 2010). Furthermore, by participating in a short exercise with an
out-group, this can improve empathy in in-groups towards out-groups (Martin et al.,
2015). Building on these techniques could prove useful in the Namibian context,
although the underlying psychological mechanism driving SDO may be so deeply
engrained into an individual that it could prove difficult to create a lasting change.
Despite there being some potential areas for future projects to reduce
domination of out-groups, some scholars believe that coexistence will never be truly
achieved as long as there is violence and subjugation directed at certain groups
(Nibert, 2002; Pharr, 2000; Sylvain, 2001). Purely because much of the violence
towards Namibian predators is conducted on livestock and trophy hunting farms
(Marker et al., 2003), where slaughter is an every-day occurrence, we may never reach
true coexistence as long as killing other species is considered normal, natural and
necessary (Joy, 2011). Indeed, domestication of animals may have been the first step
towards an authoritarian politic (Thomas, 1991) and animal slavery has been thought
by some to pave the way for human exploitation and slavery (Fisher, 1979). Therefore
Leo Tolstoy may have been correct in thinking that “as long as there are slaughter
houses there will always be battlefields”.
Recent research has indicated that human-wildlife coexistence is affected by a
multitude of inconspicuous human drivers (Dickman, 2008, 2012). Dickman (2010)
recommended that a more thorough examination of these drivers be undertaken. This
is the first study that shows the complex political, historical, economic and social
drivers influencing human-carnivore coexistence in Namibia, particularly the effects of
the relationship between the farmer and workers (Chapter 5). These findings are
important for wildlife managers as they show that relying on technical solutions to
reduce property damage may not solve the issue if there are underlying human
dimensions that influence conflict. It is recommended that, to improve conservation’s
success, more emphasis should be placed on understanding how these human
dimensions potentially affect wildlife interventions. As half of this past year’s main
conservation journal articles still focused on the ecological threats to species, a
conscious effort should be placed on directing more attention towards the human
dimensions through, for example, journal calls for papers, specific funding for research
projects on this topic and/or emphasis on human dimensions in university
conservation courses. A further obstacle needs to be overcome, however, in that
there are still very few conservation organisations that employ social scientists (pers.
obs.). It is unclear why this is the case, but effort should be put in place to increase
recruitment of social scientists as this could well benefit conservation in the long run.
Due to the call for more participatory methods be used to help find acceptable
solutions for improving human-carnivore interactions (Dickman et al., 2013), this
research has devised a new participatory decision-making technique that could be
employed where there is: 1) a diverse group of stakeholders, 2) differences in opinions
over how to manage a problem, and 3) an uncertain future – problems which could all
act to hinder face-to-face negotiations but are very common in environmental
problems. Conservation managers and policy makers across the world may find this
decision-making technique helpful when undertaking participatory planning, but
caution must be used when relying solely on this method, due to the limitations
mentioned earlier in this chapter.
Even within the relatively small sample used in Chapter 3, I have shown that
there were differences in how people perceived that conservation conflicts could be
solved. This therefore demonstrates that although some conflict mitigation
techniques may work in some areas, they cannot be universally applied. As such,
although Namibia has implemented a national policy on improving human-wildlife
coexistence (Government of Namibia, 2009), this policy is unlikely to be applicable in
all instances and, instead, a more targeted context-specific and adaptable approach
may be more effective. Where national policies for mitigating conflict have been
created (or are in the process of doing so), policymakers would benefit from
appreciating the context-specificity of many conservation conflicts. It is unlikely that a
“one size fits all” policy will be acceptable or effective in many areas of the world due
to the vastly different environmental, social, political and economic factors involved in
each situation.
In terms of the broader picture of media coverage of carnivore coexistence
(Chapter 4), this research has shown potentially biased portrayals of conflict
interventions due to the dominance of environmental NGOs reporting in newspapers.
Conservation academics and practitioners can use this information to increase their
communication efforts with media outlets to help scientifically explain the pros and
cons of these methods – the outcome of which could be greatly assisted by media and
science communication training directed at academics, which is currently somewhat
The findings in Chapter 4 on the benefits and challenges of conservancies are
applicable to community-based natural resource managers as they highlight the
previously noted problems with creating and governing an equitable benefit
distribution amongst members (Rust & Marker, 2013). For community conservation to
work successfully for people and wildlife, benefits must be perceived to be distributed
equally. This can be difficult, particularly in situations where hegemonic power can
easily monopolise these benefits. Community-based conservation in southern Africa
can suffer from elite capture as they tend to be run by tribal chiefs (Nelson, Sandbrook,
& Roe, 2009). In instances where power has been actively shared more equally
amongst the community (and especially between men and women), benefits from
conservation also appear to have been distributed more equally (Khatiwada & Silva,
2014). This underlines the importance of the governance structures being able to
influence the success of conservation interventions. Decision makers in conservation
must be culturally aware to the specific power structures in each community and
ensure that these are adequately addressed when planning and undertaking any
Recent research has suggested the importance of using qualitative social
science methods to help understand conservation problems (Drury et al., 2011). This
thesis corroborates this finding when the aim is either to undertake preliminary
research or to reassess a problem to develop new insights and theories. Chapter 5
underlined the strength of using qualitative methods for creating new and
unanticipated knowledge. This could be useful to conservation practitioners and
researchers when trying to find new solutions to conservation problems or to help
explain why certain conservation interventions are not working properly. That said, as
many conservationists tend to be trained in natural sciences, qualitative methods may
appear rather foreign to them (Drury et al., 2011). It might therefore be useful for
more conservation undergraduate and graduate degrees to integrate courses on
qualitative social science methods.
In terms of global carnivore conservation, Chapter 5 has found that there were
a variety of different actors involved in the management of carnivores on unprotected
lands that had the ability to directly or indirectly influence carnivore populations. This
research should therefore be of interest to designers of carnivore conservation
management schemes as it suggests the importance firstly of understanding which
actors influence carnivore conservation and secondly in determining the effect of
these actors on the outcome of their interventions. Methods such as Stakeholder or
Actor Analysis could prove useful here, as the diverse array of stakeholders can be
highlighted using these methods (Hermans, 2008; Rastogi et al., 2010), which may help
to ensure that all actors are acknowledged and involved in management plans.
The discovery of the effects of deep-rooted political history on carnivore
management (Chapters 1 and 5) is important for carnivore conservationists as it shows
that interventions may not be successful if historical, political or cultural events
shaping the current situations are not taken into consideration. However, it is not
common for conservation research or interventions to thoroughly address these
potential driving factors. There are some exceptions: Thorn et al. (2012) showed that a
person’s ethnic background affected the number of carnivores removed on South
African farms, which indicated that Afrikaans farmers in particular (and to a lesser
degree English farmers), removed significantly more predators than indigenous
farmers; other recent papers too touch on the fact that culture and the political history
of a country affect attitudes towards carnivores (Constant, 2014; Gangaas, Kaltenborn,
& Andreassen, 2014; Page, Parker, Peinke, & Davies-Mostert, 2015). This suggests that
these are both integral in shaping behaviour towards carnivores in some instances.
Indeed, cultures that come from a history of colonising and exploiting others may
indeed be less tolerant of carnivores (Constant, 2014). The possibilities for future work
on this topic are vast and much-needed so that we can begin to understand the true
complexity of factors influencing human tolerance towards carnivores.
Along with actors within the study population, researchers themselves must be
aware of the influence they too have on the system (McLennan & Hill, 2013) and
organisations that implement carnivore mitigation schemes must be mindful of the
diverse factors affecting the success of their approaches. Taking a reflexive approach
to conservation work is therefore recommended24, although currently rarely
performed. Conservationists could learn from the experience of the anthropology
discipline here, which actively encourages researchers to be reflexive (Inskip, 2013). It
may be helpful for conservationists to work in collaboration with anthropologists to
learn about taking a reflexive approach, as well as to understand more about
qualitative methods of data collection.
When reflecting on my own work, one potential bias that could have been
introduced in this study may have stemmed from my previous experience working in a
Namibian carnivore conservation organisation – this personal bias may have
subconsciously guided the research into a direction that was more positive towards
carnivores, possibly at the expense of humans involved in the situation. I was well
aware of this bias throughout my PhD and therefore actively tried to remain neutral in
all instances. For instance, potential questions posed to participants were piloted on
individuals both within and external to the study area to check, amongst other things,
for potentially leading questions. Furthermore, whilst I did not hide the fact that I
previously worked at a carnivore conservation organisation when asked, I did not
widely advertise this involvement as I felt that this too may have biased my data. For
example, participants may have felt inclined to change their attitude towards me and
could have even altered their answers to my questions if they had previous positive or
negative experiences and/or ideas about individuals who worked for such
organisations (Inskip, 2013). As in anthropology, being reflexive from the start of a
research project may help reduce bias and provide an insight into how a researcher
may affect their own data collection and interpretation.
Research is a continual process rather than a defined project with start and end points.
As such, my findings have paved the way for important future research directions that
24 For more information on reflexivity see Watson (1987)
could help towards achieving effective carnivore conservation. The next natural step
to this predominantly qualitative study would be to undertake a quantitative
assessment to quantify the influence that each of the revealed driving factors in
Chapter 5 influence carnivore coexistence. This could numerically quantify variables
such as the frequency of livestock depredation in comparison to farmer or worker job
The decision-making technique (Chapter 3) used in this thesis produced
agreement between a diverse group of people. However, I have highlighted in this
chapter the challenges with using consensus building in decision making therefore it
would be important to use other decision-support tools, such as MCA or voting-based
methods, and compare their outcomes to the ones found here. The will help to
understand how the process of searching for consensus can affect decisions.
Additionally, it would be important to understand whether and how human-human
conflict is affected by these processes. For example, conflict between stakeholders
may change depending on whether negotiations take place remotely or face-to-face.
Further content analysis that could be undertaken (Chapter 4) could be to
explore how the media influences decision-making in conservation planning, as this
could affect an individual’s selection of techniques. Content analysis could also
determine whether media framing of carnivore mitigation schemes has altered over
time dependent on various changes in conservation and agricultural policies that could
have affected this framing. It could also be insightful to understand how other
mitigation methods besides financial incentives are portrayed in the media, both in
Namibia as well as in other areas where there are problems with conservation
conflicts. This could provide a snapshot of the different ways in which the media of
different countries portray the efficacy of mitigation techniques. Furthermore, it
would be beneficial to understand exactly how the media affect perceptions towards
mitigation schemes to gauge their influence on their readership, particularly given that
different individuals have access to different media outlets.
Finally, this research has identified that the structures used to colonise Namibia
have influenced carnivore management (Chapter 5) therefore it is essential to
determine whether this is a unique case, or whether colonisation has affected
carnivore management in other areas of the world. Future work could build upon
Social Dominance Theory (Costello & Hodson, 2010; Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, &
Malle, 1994) or Right-Wing Authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1981; Dhont & Hodson,
2014), both of which have been used in social psychology to explain the exploitation of
other humans and other non-human animals.
Chapters 3 and 5 focused specifically on commercial livestock farms in Namibia.
Future work on Namibia’s communal farmland is essential, particularly to understand
whether the drivers of conflict established in this thesis are mirrored in communal
livestock farms. The reason for this study’s focus in the commercial areas was due to
the high proportion of wildlife (including carnivores) in this area (Krugmann, 2001). As
such, commercial farmland currently holds the most important habitat for carnivores
in Namibia. However, communal land has the potential for Namibia’s carnivore range
to expand into and is therefore important to include in future studies.
The content analysis of Namibian media (Chapter 4) included only English
newspapers, which may have biased the findings. Newspapers of other languages
were not chosen for analysis because the most widely distributed and popular
newspapers were in English. That said, comparing the coverage of conflict mitigation
strategies in this study to non-English newspapers could highlight differences and
similarities in their framing of these strategies. This could potentially show contrasting
ways in which carnivores are perceived by different cultures across Namibia, as has
been shown in other studies (Dickman, 2008; Page et al., 2015).
Ground-truthing was not undertaken to confirm the number of predated or
stolen livestock or on the number of poached game animals (Chapter 5). Instead,
perceived losses were used to determine the frequency of these events, which may
not reflect reality (Boast, 2014; Hill, 2004). These reported losses might be inaccurate
due to lack of or biased information, or because respondents want to influence wider
policy (Gillingham & Lee, 1999; Lindsey et al., 2013). It would be useful to determine
the actual losses suffered on these farms, but this may prove difficult, especially when
investigating clandestine and illegal behaviour such as theft and poaching. Methods
such as the unmatched count technique or the randomised response technique could
be employed (Nuno & St John, 2014), although they suffer from challenges when used
with participants that are naïve to the methods (Boast, 2014). Whilst determining
actual losses could help clarify whether there are certain attributes (e.g. worker job
satisfaction or worker salary) in common throughout depredation hotspots, it is often
perceived damage that is the strongest driver of attitudes and behaviour rather than
the real loss (Marker et al., 2003; Mishra, 1997). This indicates that simply quantifying
losses does not account for the complicated relationships that people hold towards
perceived risk factors (Webber & Hill, 2014). The validity of the conclusions in this
research should therefore not be affected by the lack of ground-truthing - although
there is still value in understanding the difference between perception and reality of
wildlife damage (Webber & Hill, 2014).
The sampling strategies used in Chapters 3 and 5 may have affected the
external validity of the results, as respondents were not selected randomly.
Regardless, the main aim of Chapter 3 was to determine if a diverse group of
stakeholders could agree on how to manage a complex problem, rather than to
extrapolate the results of these findings more widely. Furthermore, both Delphi and
Q-methodology do not require random sampling (Skulmoski & Hartman, 2007;
Stephenson, 1953). If the goal is to ensure external validity, a further survey could be
conducted with a random selection of participants from all stakeholder groups. That
said, one of the key findings from Chapter 3 was that each farm was unique thus it may
not be appropriate to use one (or a few) mitigation method(s) for the entire country,
therefore scaling this technique up to a national level might not be advisable if the goal
is to create a countrywide policy to mitigate conflict.
For Chapter 5, the non-random sampling could have skewed responses, but this
chapter used qualitative methods that do not require random sampling. To ensure
that results from this chapter could be extrapolated outside the study area, random
sampling with a larger sample size would be needed. Regardless, the aim of Chapter 5
was to uncover hidden, unexplored dimensions of conflict therefore quantitative
methods using random sampling would probably not have been appropriate. Future
work that tests the relationship found in Chapter 5 between frequency of poaching,
theft and livestock depredation related to work conditions would however benefit
from random sampling.
Carnivores are difficult species to conserve firstly because they are naturally rare,
secondly because many of these species require animal protein for sustenance that
can sometimes be derived from property owned by humans (Gittleman, Funk, &
Macdonald, 2001) and thirdly because they confer different symbolic meanings to
different people (Skogen & Krange, 2003). Although various techniques have been
developed to improve tolerance towards carnivores, none appear to have been
universally successful or accepted in each instance. Sometimes the reasons for this
lack of success is due to the unique environmental, social, economic and political
conditions of each situation, but other times it is because the underlying drivers of the
conflict have not been addressed (Madden & McQuinn, 2014). This research has
shown that conservation conflicts, such as those involving carnivores and livestock
farmers, are incredibly complex and influenced by a multitude of different actors and
factors, some of which have previously been ignored when designing conservation
interventions. Only by appreciating the true wickedness of this problem (Clark et al.,
2014) and by delving into the deep-rooted issues affecting it will there be any hope of
achieving coexistence between humans and carnivores in the long-term.
“Knowledge is like a lion; it cannot be
gently embraced”
South African Proverb
Niki Rust © 2011
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