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Good fences make safe lions - Born free is good, but protected is better

lion fence Craig Packer conservation Selous South Africa

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#1 Rwenzori

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 12:12 AM

http://articles.lati...-lions-20130425

 

love the ending:

"we need a latter-day Marshall Plan that integrates the true costs of park management into the economic priorities of international development agencies. Lions are too valuable to take for granted."



#2 egilio

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 04:55 AM

There's been some pretty strong criticism on this study. Do you really want to protect 20-50 lions in small reserves where they don't really fill their ecosystem function, but are near (or often over) carrying capacity or do you want to protect >2000 lions in an area like Selous where lions do fill their ecosystem function, but is impossible to properly fence?


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#3 ZaminOz

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 07:46 AM

@egilio

 

... the latter!


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#4 Rwenzori

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 09:01 AM

If you read the article no one is suggesting to break up the Selous into smaller fenced reserves.

 

The author say that basically it will be hard to get local people involved in conservation until lions keep attacking them and eating their livestock.

 

If there is no wilderness outside a reserve but only farms and villages, like in the disticts west of Serengeti, what's the poing in being "free"?

 

You already aren't but is harder to protect you.

 

There are times when lack of fences doesn't promote connectivity but only keeps human-wildlife conflict high.



#5 egilio

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 06:40 PM

They argue to fence Selous as a whole. The cost of this is immense, the cost of maintaining it even bigger. If you have the budget and put it to anti-poaching work instead of fence maintenance the protection of Selous would already be much better than it is now. Basically they claim that it is better to protect 20 lions in a small fenced area than 1,000 lions in a big unfenced area BECAUSE the 20 in the small area are closer to the carrying capacity of lions in that small fenced area.

 

Added to that, if you separate wildlife and people the tolerance and willingness of people to protect wildlife will decrease. The forget to live with animals, they don't see the animals as an integral part of the ecosystem they live in. But they will keep seeing it as a resource, they will keep poaching, they will keep snaring, and the fences just so happen to provide good materials for that.


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#6 jeremie

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 11:21 PM

Western Serengeti needs to be fenced, this is clear.

I have doubts fencing Selous is great. This might help lions, but what would happen with other species, especially migratory ones?

Botswana fenced a lot in the past and this lead to huge collapse of different species. We must think in a global way, protecting lion not always benefit to all the species.



#7 egilio

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Posted 31 October 2015 - 02:22 AM

What would people use those fences for?

The fences in Botswana stayed up because there's just very few people there, and the fences were to separate wildlife and cattle, and those fences are not predator proof. 

 

Even in intensively managed places, like Save, fences are taken down and turned into snares. But Save has quite intensive anti-poaching, much more intensively than National parks. So this would mean that you need money to build the fences, money to maintain the fences and increase money for patrolling within the fences. 

 

What would a fence in Western Serengeti do with the wildebeest migration? The current illegal off-take of wildebeests in the Serengeti is estimated to be around 100,000 annually, currently that is sustainable. Putting a fence up in the Western Serengeti will reduce the wildebeest numbers, it will not completely wipe out the poaching. It might not even reduce the poaching at all. 

 

I think the route of making certain species World Heritages in itself, with proper UN funding backing it to conserve them, might be the way.


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#8 jeremie

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Posted 31 October 2015 - 03:34 AM

@egilio

The fences in Botswana lead to the collapse of the elephant population, as they had no possibility to migrate during the dry season.

In Serengeti, the fences would enable protecting people against animals, especially crop raiding. I agree with you, that fencing will never stop poaching, but limit conflicts.

I also completely agree that parks are underfunded or not funded at all. 

 

The point is that we need to find innovative solutions, as it is clear the parks will not receive further funding. Even APN allow small budget in its biggest protected areas. 

The best solution, I guess, would be to make huge trusts from billionaires, which dividends would help to fund some parks. Not all, this would be imposible But it is clear we will never reach 100 MUSD for Selous per year, there is not enough money for it. I am estimating that Tanzania would need a bit around 700-800 MUSD every year to fund properly its network of protected areas, while the nation GDP is about177 billion USD.

 

What is your opinion about Akagera, Majete and very soon Liwonde?

Do you think that fencing is a mistake? My opinion is that it will reduce conflict such as crop raiding, and limit cattle invading the parks, so I guess this is a good idea. These parks are also some islands of wildlife surrounded by fields...


Edited by jeremie, 31 October 2015 - 03:38 AM.

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#9 egilio

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 01:40 AM

I've never heard of an elephant collapse in Botswana because of fences. Do you have more info on this? As far as I know the elephants aren't really controlled by the fences. Lots of zebra and wildebeests died in the Kalahari when they tried to move north to get to water but came across fences.

 

I don't think we should rely on generous billionaires for the protection of areas. A UN initiated fund to properly protect natural world heritage would be more sustainable I think.

 

Fencing is not innovative, it's going back to fortress conservation. Separating humans and wildlife might reduce the conflicts in the short term, but in the long term people will perceive smaller infrictions on themselves as a problem, ie their tolerance to wildlife will be reduced considerably.

 

If you read the AP reports you can see that Liuwa Plain has a work force of about 100 people, it cover 3,600 sq km. Majete has a work force of about 300 people and covers about 700 sq. km. The majority of the people employed in Majete are for fence patrol and maintenance. In some areas, like Majete, where there is no connection for wildlife to other wildlife populations, where there is a very dense human population all around the park, it's the only way to protect the animals inside the park. 

 

So maybe we should fence people in, and not wildlife? I doubt that's a correct solution too. You could fence villages and fields to keep animals out, but you need the same effort to patrol fences and maintain fences. And what if the number of people in the village grow and you need more space for houses and fields?


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#10 jeremie

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 11:46 AM

I meant wild beast, what a terrible mistake.

 

My opinion si that if there is no more space for animals, and in high densities areas, such as the area west to Grumeti reserve or outside Liwonde or Majete, you have to fence. I am not sure people will be more tolerant to wildlife without fence than with a fence. Crop raiding make people quite intolerant.

Same problem for Yankari.

 

I do not see any other solution.

 

Concerning the idea of a UN fund. You are true, this is the long term solution if countries cannot fund their own protected areas, but how long will it take to make such a fund? What amount should be given by nations for the fund? While we have huge problems to find the 100 billions promised for the COP21, I have serious doubts we will be able to create a fund in the next 20 years for conservation. My evaluation is that Tanzania would need 700 MUSD each year to protect each protected areas with sufficient funds, well, this would mean we need a trust of 14 U

billions USD only for Tanzania (5% interest rate).

 

I guess you see the huge difficulties it means. And why I am asking billionaire to play the game.



#11 egilio

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 09:24 PM

If animals go absent from an area, even for a very short time, the intolerance towards them increases rapidly once they return.

I've seen this in Liuwa and Luangwa. Lions regularly wander through many villages in Luangwa at night, sometimes killing dogs. The people know this, and, although they don't like it, they don't report it as a problem.

In Liuwa, where lions where pretty much absent safe for one for less than 10 year, people are quick to report to AP when lions wandered through a village at night. When asked what the lions did the response was: "They were there!" IE, they didn't attack anyone or any livestock or dogs, but it was already perceived as a problem. 


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#12 ZaminOz

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 05:19 AM

@jeremie

Fences are about the worst idea for southern African national parks (particularly in countries like Zambia) because they would:

1. cut the park off from its surrounding wildlife buffer areas; and

2. provide poachers with a ready supply of snare materials.


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#13 jeremie

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 10:34 AM

@

ZaminOz

 

I repeat: In am in favour of fences in islands reserves surrounded by highly populated human landscapes such as Liwonde, Majete, Yankari...

I am against fences in large wild or pastoralist areas, where fencing might protect lions, but would potencialy lead to a collapse of other migratory species.

The case of Luangwa is clear. Both national parks are in a way connected to some Malawi protected areas and many other areas in Eastern Zambia.



#14 jeremie

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 12:19 AM

http://www.scientifi...-behind-fences/

 

Not everyone agree the results of the study.


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#15 lovesbigcats

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 05:51 AM

Certainly, there is no "one" answer to declining lion populations, but fencing--for some of them--is probably a good option.  Packer has done a lot of research on lion populations and does believe that fencing can help slow the decline.  Of course, issues raised in this thread--like the detrimental effects on migrations--are valid and is why there can be no "one" solution to lions in decline.

 

There are various good programs being implemented to help mitigate human-lion conflict, such as blinking lights that scare aware lions (see, eg, http://www.examiner....ghts-invention) as well as program's like WildCru's Long Shields Lion Guardians (see, eg, https://www.panthera.org/cms/sites/default/files/April-2014-Newsletter.pdf)

 

I don't like the idea of paying villagers if lions kill their cattle--though I understand the need for some type of renumeration--but the practice has led to less lion deaths. (Can't find the reference right now.)

 

So, again, I think fencing may be a solution for some lion populations where other means to mitigate human-lion interaction is not feasible or not successful.


Edited by lovesbigcats, 20 April 2016 - 05:52 AM.


#16 Tomas

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 06:03 AM

I do not like fences at all in some cases it may be necessary

I think that managing an area differently and make sure that the local communities get profits from the parks,reservs,protected areas and help to protect them is a more long term solution but I am afraid that the pressure to farm more and build more will in the end make a lot of wild and natural areas to be fenced and then they are no longer wild.

I absolutly belive that the only way to save wild areas is to make profit from them maybe with help as @egilio suggests from ex the EU but also from tourism and hunting



#17 Lois Hild Photography

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Posted 16 June 2016 - 04:56 PM

There probably is not a "one size fits all" answer here, but we need to seriously look at one of the few areas on the continent where the lion population is actually INCREASING and see  what they are doing. In Olare Motorogi Conservancy, one of the private conservancies of the Masai Mara, conservancy funds are used to build fences, but not to fence the lions in. Funds are used to construct bomas to protect landowners' livestock from predation. This has no impact on migratory species and landowners feel ownership in conservancy profits. This conservancy, along with the other private conservancies in the area, are fastidious about paying landowners their share of conservancy fees which are based on bed numbers whether those beds are occupied or not, meaning the landowners have a steady income. This model seems to be working well for the predators. This does not work as well when the conversation switches to rhinos who need the fences to protect them.

 


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#18 armchair bushman

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 06:00 AM

I don't see that this has been mentioned above, but while you're busy fencing a park to keep the lions in, you're also destroying the park by keeping the elephants in.  Aberdare National Park in Kenya is a good example of this.  Every year a bunch of 4x4 enthusiasts head off into the bush for an extreme multi-day 4x4 off-road (and I really mean there's no semblance of a road) event.  They bring in all sorts of equipment, food, supplies, fuels, lubricants, etc.  They party and drink and listen to loud music.  They drive across fragile ecosystems with their monstrous vehicles, and they raise tens of millions of shillings for conservation.  This money goes straight to Rhino Ark who uses it to fence off forests like Aberdare NP (and now Mau and Eburru).  They celebrated when the Aberdares were fully fenced.  This meant no more conflict between elephants and local farmers.  But what it did mean (and literally NO ONE wants to talk about this) is that the local elephant population continued to do well and continued pushing over trees (as they do).  But because they could no longer travel farther afield and migrate to other parts of the country, they just continue pushing over trees in this essential 'water tower' catchment.  So instead of the aberdares being under risk from illegal loggers, it is now under risk from elephants!  About 1/5 of the country's population relies directly on the water supply that comes from the aberdares.  If the elephants are allowed to continue deforesting the park, we're all screwed.  But it's a huge accomplishment for conservation, right!?

This is the problem with fences - they are a 1 dimensional solution to a multi-dimensional challenge.  It's narrow minded and short-sighted.

 

Almost every park in East Africa that has lions (other than Nakuru and Nairobi), also has elephants.  You fence in the lions, you also fence in the elephants, and it's no secret that elephants are WELL-KNOWN as very influential ecosystem engineers.

 

Another example, specifically using lions (and wild-dogs), why fences may be detrimental.  If say, we were to fence off Masai Mara (even including all the conservancies and some extra land), we'd cut off that wildlife from their neighbouring populations in the Loita Hills and the Southern Rift (Shompole, Olkiramatian, Enkusero Sampu, etc.), and onward to Ambosel and Tsavo.  We're all under the impression that those are separated ecosystems.  How many people are aware that one pack of wild-dogs has been tracked from central Serengeti, up to the Mau, down over the Nguruman escarpment, across lake Magadi, up through Kajiado, through Amboseli, and into Tsavo West?  Genetic studies on lions across that region also show that there is still an exchange of genes.  Shompole and its surroundings have as high a density of lions as most of the mara and serengeti.  The Loita hills still have a decent (but very shy) lion population that mixes with their neighbours on either side.  
This has nothing to do with a 'Joy Adamson style emotional plea for lions to be born free/living free' and everything to do with sensible, long-term, broad solution thinking.

 

Where ever local communities benefit directly (generally monetarily) from the wildlife they would otherwise be in conflict with, conservation tends to succeed.  Where ever local communities are ignored, marginalized, and told to "just value the wildlife as your nation's heritage", they're only too happy to see that wildlife disappear or be locked up behind a fence.


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#19 douglaswise

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Posted 18 June 2016 - 09:01 AM

@ armchair bushman:

 

Your thesis only has merit if the elephants trapped within a fenced area would otherwise be able to move away at times of unfavourable nutrition to areas where conditions were better.  One could regard this as self-transhumance.  An example would be wildbeest "following the rains" in the Mara/Serengeti system.  However, you, yourself, say that almost every area in Kenya that has areas appropriate for elephants already has elephants within them.  This might suggest a mis-match  between elephant population numbers and their available habitat.  If fencing represents the outcome of one dimensional thinking, consider fencing plus harvesting (culling) surplus animals - two dimensional!  Otherwise, please be more specific about the broad solution thinking that will allow simultaneous explosions of human and elephant populations. 


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#20 armchair bushman

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:41 AM

While I, personally, am not wholly against culling, under the right circumstances, control, and supervision, I can guarantee you that the general conservation/bunny-hugger fraternity in Kenya would absolutely, categorically never allow such a thing in this country.  Carrying capacities, etc. mean nothing here, where "animal welfare" is basically synonymous with "conservation".  Science and hands-on management are a pretty foreign concept when you have emotions ruling national policy.

 

Hence, corridors (which generally require some fencing) are probably the best "happy medium" for Kenya.  A well designed corridor can have two desired effects:

1. Allow elephants and other migratory/wandering species to continue their natural behaviour without the need for culling
2. Keep elephants and other marauding animals out of farmlands, towns, roads, etc.

 

Aberdare NP is somewhat unique in that it supports a healthy elephant population, but is almost wholly surrounded by farmlands and settlement.  Other parks that are completely surrounded (Nakuru, Nairobi) do not support elephants, while other parks that support elephants are not (yet) fully surrounded, allowing for some continued movement.  In areas where conservancies (and I don't necessarily mean mara-style, tourism-based conservancies) abut National Parks, Reserves, and other major wildlife areas, elephants (and lions) are free to move in and out, allowing for a continual mixing of the gene pool.

 

I have read that only 3 areas of Kenya still have viable lion populations with a large enough gene pool to be self-sustaining (Mara, Laikipia, Tsavo).  I would, with some hesitation, challenge that concept and say that the Mara and Tsavo actually share/trade gene pools from time to time.  Research on lions across the Southern Rift region suggests that there is still some trading of genes and that through ongoing conservation efforts in the area, this is actually increasing.

The same is true of many parts of Northern Kenya, where elephants and lions are beginning to reappear in areas they have not been seen for decades.  There is some hope, in fact, that elephants will soon be seen on Mt. Kulal again in a couple of years (they have not been seen there for over 20, I believe).  They have been steadily moving farther and farther North, as some of the old matriarchs retrace some of their old paths across the Milgis lugga and beyond.  Better land use planning, changing attitudes towards wildlife, and improved rangeland management across the Northern Rangelands means the elephants are gaining more confidence to explore their old stomping grounds again.

I would argue that if a park is completely surrounded by farms, you either have to fence it and remove the elephants, or cull the elephants.  Otherwise, if there's any room for a corridor to further feeding areas, that corridor MUST be established and maintained. 


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