Getting along with predators, lion, leopard, wild dogs might be simple in theory.
As I stood outside our tent and heard that deep throated roar of the lions I must admit fear gripped my heart just a bit. They had assured us that they were no threat, however, no matter how much the mind may understand, primal instincts are less easily convinced.
Images of a lion bursting through the side of our tent raced across the stage of my imagination. Its dark, the moon is about half, the sky is clear and I hear them again as I write and I hope they’ve already had dinner.
I realize it’s easy to tell villagers, and those living amongst wild animals, to figure out how to get along, how to keep themselves and their livestock safe from Africa’s magnificent predators. What would you do if your children were at risk from being hunted? One reserve manager knows this feeling all to well. He and his wife worked at game reserve where lions, leopards and elephant roamed freely around public areas… they never let their little girl play outdoors alone. What about the local farmer and his family who doesn’t have the luxury to find employment in a safer area?
This strikes me as sad… here are families living this amazing life in the bush amongst African wild animals, yet… they live on edge and reality spells “danger”. What are the answers? How do people and wildlife live together?
Do we continue to put fences around the wildlife and keep it restricted to certain areas as we have been doing? It’s far better than killing the predators, however, what if we looked at it a bit differently. What about if we keep the people and their livestock protected?
In some cases this is working. Patrick Sibeko (Wildlife Conservation Manager of iMfolozi Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa) tells us that in some cases in the communities surrounding the park building high fences with razor wire on top has prevented errant wild dogs from killing local farmers’ sheep, goats and cattle.
There are surely many more solutions to keep both humans and wildlife alive and living harmoniously (or almost) together.
What would you do if there was a lion in your tent? Before I have nightmares as I just heard them roaring again…
Let us know if you have a good human-wildlife conflict story with a successful outcome to share.