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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use visual deterrents (e.g. scarecrows) to deter predation of livestock by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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  • Two studies evaluated the effects of using visual deterrents, such as scarecrows, to deter predation of livestock by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict. One study was in Kenya and one was in Mexico.





  • Human-wildlife conflict (2 studies): A study in Kenya recorded more livestock predation at bomas with scarecrows than those without scarecrows whereas a replicated, controlled study in Mexico found that a combination of visual and sound deterrents reduced livestock predation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A study in 2001–2005 of bushland and savanna in Laikipia and neighbouring districts, Kenya (Woodroffe et al. 2007) found that at bomas with scarecrows positioned to deter predators, there were more, rather than fewer, carnivore attacks on livestock than at bomas without scarecrows. Scarecrows at bomas were associated with an increased risk of livestock attack by carnivores (results presented as odds ratio). The effect was strongest for leopards Panthera pardus. Scarecrows comprised cloth hung on trees or boma walls. They were present at 44% of 483 bomas (average 2.4/boma). Combining attacks on bomas with attacks on livestock herds grazing by day, the study documented 105 attacks by spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta, 96 by leopards, 44 by African wild dogs Lycaon pictus, 35 by lions Panthera leo and 19 by cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus. From January 2001 to June 2005, eighteen local staff verified reports of livestock lost to predation and gathered data on animal husbandry practices used. Attacked bomas were compared to nearby bomas (median 323 m away) that had not been attacked.


A replicated, controlled study in 2010 of six farms in a forested area in central Mexico (Zarco-González & Monroy-Vilchis 2014) found that visual and sound deterrents reduced predation of livestock on ranches. The relative effects of the two deterrent types were not assessed individually. No large predators (puma Puma concolor or jaguar Panthera onca) were detected on ranches that used deterrents compared with 2 detections/ranch and 2–4 livestock attacks/ranch where deterrents were not used. Out of six ranches (44–195 ha extent, ≥6 km apart), two cattle ranches and two goat ranches deployed deterrents whilst no deterrents were deployed on one cattle ranch and one goat ranch. Visual deterrents were shirts worn by livestock owners, hung around paddocks. Sound deterrents were recordings of voices, motors, pyrotechnics, barking dogs and bells, played twice daily for 40 min, between 06:00–08:00 and 20:00–22:00 h. Deterrents alternated weekly between visual and sound, through July–August 2010. Large predators were monitored using two camera traps/ranch and by searching for tracks and other signs.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.