From Grey Wolves in the USA to Little Penguins in Australia, rigorous and exciting research is beginning to integrate the welfare of wild animals firmly in mainstream conservation practice around the world.
In the Cape Peninsula, baboons are forced into conflict with humans as their habitat is increasingly becoming urbanised. A new collaboration has been established among wildlife managers, baboon experts from the University of Cape Town, conservation biologists and animal welfare scientists from the University of British Columbia, Canada and the local community to trial non-lethal paintball marker-deterrent management and other techniques to herd 11 troops away from urban areas. The aim of the research is to determine if this approach can reduce the incidence of raiding and harassment of local residents and improve baboon welfare.
Contact Liv Baker (opens an external site), Research Associate of the Centre based at the University of British Columbia for more information.
Turkey hosts one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe. In Northern Turkey crops, beehives and orchards attract and are easily accessed by bears, resulting in human-bear conflicts. To address this issue a partnership was formed in 2006 between the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Nature Association for Turkey (Doğa Derneği) and the University of Oxford, Zoology, WildCRU to engage rural communities in effective and humane ways to reduce conflicts.
Electric fences were installed around orchards, beehives were placed on elevated platforms, bears were monitored and a community education program was implemented. Economic losses, the risk of human injuries and fatalities, and the need for retaliation against bears has significantly reduced. The humane approach has became popular amongst rural communities and the project aided the UNDP Turkey to replicate the techniques within one of Turkey’s largest protected areas. This initiative has helped to put human-bear conflict on the national agenda of decision and policy makers in Turkey.
Contact the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) (opens an external site) for more information.
Middle Island in Victoria, Australia
A colony of Little Penguins that breed on Middle Island between September and March, was under threat by fox predation. The population had decreased from 600 penguins in 2000 to just 4 penguins in 2005. Lethal control of foxes with poisons baits and traps had been unsuccessful at addressing this threat.
In 2006, a joint project was established between Warrnambool City Council and the Warnambool Landcare group to trial the use of Maremma sheepdogs to guard the remaining penguin colony. A staff member from the local council visits the dogs daily to feed, interact with and walk the dogs. Walking the dogs around the island no only provides the dogs exercise but also spreads their scent in order to deter foxes. The project has been very successful and since its implementation there have been no incidents of fox predation on penguins and the population has steadily increased to an estimated peak number of 187 adults. This non-lethal project was not only more humane but has succeeded where lethal predator control had failed to conserve a vulnerable species.
Contact Lisa Rankin from Warrnambool City Council (opens an external site) for more information.
Gray wolves were once widespread in North America, yet concerns over livestock predation and human safety resulted in the near eradication of wolves from many states within the US. In an effort to restore the environment gray wolves were reintroduced to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the mid 1990s. The recolonising pack grew in numbers and started killing livestock resulting in human-wolf conflicts.
In 2007, the Wood River Wolf project was initiated by Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho. This involved the collaboration between wolf advocates, ranchers, scientists and government officials to implement a series of non-lethal initiatives to protect the sheep flock. A wide range of tools and methods were used such as, increased human presence, lighting, alarm sirens and other sound devices, removal of livestock carcass and fencing including turbofladry. Turbofladry corrals were used to provide a low cost barrier between the wolves and the sheep after it was discovered that the wolves did not cross the corrals. Sheep losses to wolves were found to be 90% lower in the study site than the rest of Idaho, proving that it is possible to restore the environment, reduce livestock loss and maintain a healthy wolf population.
Contact Suzanne Asha Stone (opens an external site), Research Associate of the Centre based at Defenders of Wildlife, USA or read the Livestock and Wolves Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflicts (PDF, 1.2MB) for more information.
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