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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Professor Russell Hill

Constant, N.L., Bell, S. & Hill, R.A. (2015). The impacts, characterisation and management of human-leopard conflict in a multi-use land system in South Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(12): 2967-2989.

Author(s) from Durham


Human–carnivore conflict represents a global problem, negatively impacting carnivore populations and local livelihoods worldwide. Game farming in South Africa has increased introducing a new form of conflict due to predation on game, but is poorly understood. We contribute to this deficit by adopting an interdisciplinary research approach bringing together quantitative and qualitative data with longitudinal engagement with farmers. We assess the impacts, characteristics and management of human–leopard conflict on game and livestock in the Blouberg Mountain Range. Leopards represented 89 % of reported game attacks with the highest number of attacks on impala and 60 % of reported livestock attacks. The economic costs of leopard predation were highest for nyala compared to other game species and the financial cattle and donkey losses represented large economic costs for communal farmers compared to commercial farmers. Both farming communities experienced a reduced sense of wellbeing and for communal farmers, negative spiritual and cultural impacts. The spatial predation risk of game attacks were most affected by increasing distance to water and the risk of predation on livestock attacks increased further away from villages. Livestock attacks were associated with seasonal grazing patterns and the erosion of traditional management livestock strategies due to the economic costs of their implementation and the migrant labour system altering management roles in the community. The timing of game attacks by leopards was related to the birthing seasons for game and seasonal changes in water supply. Similarly, temporal patterns on livestock were related to the calving season and land degradation in communal areas.