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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Translocate predators away from livestock to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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COMMUNITY RESPONSE (0 STUDIES)

POPULATION RESPONSE (8 STUDIES)

  • Reproductive success (2 studies): Two studies, in Zimbabwe and Namibia, found that predators translocated away from livestock bred in the wild after release.
  • Survival (8 studies): Four of eight studies (including three replicated studies and a systematic review), in the USA, Canada, Zimbabwe, South America, Botswana and Namibia, found that translocating predators reduced their survival or that most did not survive more than 6–12 months after release. Three studies found that translocated predators had similar survival to that of established animals or persisted in the wild and one study could not determine the effect of translocation on survival.

BEHAVIOUR (0 STUDIES)

OTHER (6 STUDIES)

  • Human-wildlife conflict (6 studies): Four of six studies (including a review and a systematic review), in the USA, South America and in North and Central America and Africa, found that some translocated predators continued to predate livestock or returned to their capture sites. One study found that translocated predators were not subsequently involved in livestock predation and one study could not determine the effect of translocation on livestock predation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

1 

A study in 1975–1978 of an extensive primarily forested area in Minnesota, USA (Fritts et al. 1984; same experimental set-up as Fritts et al. 1985) found that gray wolves Canis lupus translocated away from sites of livestock predation or harassment were less likely to return to capture sites if moved when younger or across greater distances. Of 15 translocations of <64 km, nine endpoints (sites of mortality, recapture or last radiolocation) were at original capture sites. Of 20 translocations of >64 km, no endpoints were at original capture sites. None of nine pups, whose endpoints were determined (following translocation of 64 km (two pups) or 111–321 km (seven pups), returned to original capture locations. Between February 1975 and May 1978, 62 adult wolves and 45 four- to seven-month-old pups were caught in an area of livestock predation and harassment by wolves. Wolves were ear-tagged and released into forests, 50–331 km from capture sites. Forty-one wolves were released individually. Sixty-six were released in groups of 2–6. Fifteen adults and four pups were fitted with radio-collars. Seventeen of these were tracked from an aircraft for 1–588 days. Thirty-five endpoints in total were determined from 32 wolves (23 adults and nine pups - second endpoints were determined for three recaptured wolves that were translocated twice).

2 

A study in 1975–1978 of an extensive primarily forested area in Minnesota, USA (Fritts et al. 1985; same experimental set-up as Fritts et al. 1984) found that gray wolves Canis lupus translocated away from sites of livestock predation or harassment had similar survival to that of established wolves. Annual survival for 17 radio-collared wolves (60%) was similar to survival in three studies of established wolves in the region (65%, 66% and 21–100%). Between February 1975 and May 1978, sixty-two adult wolves and 45 four- to seven-month-old pups were caught in an area of livestock predation or harassment by wolves. Wolves were ear-tagged and released into forests, 50–331 km from capture sites. Forty-one wolves were released individually. Sixty-six were released in groups of 2–6. Fifteen adults and four pups were fitted with radio-collars. Seventeen of these were tracked from an aircraft for 1–588 days.

3 

A study in 1989–1992 of forest and meadow in an area of Oregon, USA (Armistead et al. 1994) found that black bears Ursus americanus translocated away from areas with histories of bear attacks on sheep were not subsequently involved in livestock predation. None of five radio-collared, translocated bears was involved in sheep predation during the monitoring period (≤1 year). However, four of the bears died during that period (three were shot and one found dead) and one either moved away or its radio-collar malfunctioned. Sixteen bears were translocated in 1990 and five in 1991 from areas where five bears had been killed in 1989 to protect livestock. Bears were released ≤20 miles from capture sites. Bears translocated in 1991 were radio-collared. One was monitored for approximately one year. The others were monitored for shorter, unspecified, periods.

4 

A replicated study in 1988–1990 across parts of Alberta, Canada (Ross & Jalkotzy 1995) found that three cougars Felis concolor translocated following predation of livestock survived for between 3.5 months and at least one year after release. An adult female (4.3 years old) was translocated 51 km following sheep predation. She was found dead, from a bacterial infection, 3.5 months later. A 20-month-old male was translocated 51 km. One year later he was recaptured, 79 km from the release site, following reports of goat killings. He was released 43 km away but not subsequently monitored. A 15-month-old male was translocated 63 km after having killed a dog Canis lupus familiaris, and was shot by a licensed hunter, 20 km from the release site, nine months later. All three cougars had been previously caught and either ear-tagged or radio-collared for monitoring and research. In this study, the adult female was radio-tracked from an airplane.

5 

A review published in 1997 of translocation studies in North and Central America and southern Africa (Linnell et al. 1997) found that many carnivores translocated to prevent livestock conflict or ‘nuisance’ behaviours returned to capture sites and/or resumed predation or nuisance behaviour. Ten of 11 studies of brown bears Ursus arctos and black bears Ursus americanus found that 45–100% of translocated bears returned up to 229 km to their capture site. Eight leopards Panthera pardus translocated to a national park immediately left the park and some (number not specified) resumed livestock predation. A further animal returned and resumed livestock predation following an 80-km translocation. Two further animals did likewise following translocation over an unspecified distance. Of 25 lions Panthera leo translocated 5–300 km (pooled from two studies), at least six resumed livestock killing. Of two jaguars Panthera onca translocated 160 km, at least one resumed livestock killing. Relevant studies on translocations to reduce livestock predation or nuisance behaviours were gathered for black bear (seven studies), brown bear (four studies), leopard (three studies), lion (two studies) and jaguar (two studies).

6 

A study in 1994–1998 in a woodland savanna protected area in northern Zimbabwe (Purchase 1998) found that a population of cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus translocated to reduce livestock losses, persisted over four years and that translocated animals reproduced in the wild. At least 13 adult cheetahs and four cubs, were alive four years after the translocation of 17 individuals. Translocated cheetahs bred at least five times and at least two cubs survived to adulthood. In 1993–1994, fourteen adult cheetahs and three cubs were released into Matusadona National Park. Cheetahs had been captured in commercial ranches where they were causing livestock losses. At the time of release, the park had no resident cheetahs but had a high density of lions (0.31/ km2) and hyenas (0.13/ km2). Cheetah numbers were estimated until July 1998, from sightings by visitors and park workers.

7 

A study in 1982–2002 in 25 temperate forest sites in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, USA (Bradley et al. 2005) found that some wolves Canis lupus translocated away from areas of livestock predation continued to prey on livestock, some returned to their capture location and that translocation reduced wolf survival. Out of 63 translocated individual wolves and nine wolf groups, 19 wolves preyed on livestock following release. Of 81 wolves or wolf groups, 16 returned to their capture site, from 74–316 km away. Annual survival of translocated wolves (60%) was lower than that of non-translocated, resident wolves (73%). Eighty-eight individual wolves were translocated 74–515 km in 1989–2001, in response to livestock predation (75 wolves) or pre-emptively to avoid such conflict (13 wolves). Seven translocated wolves were moved twice and five were moved three times. Translocated wolves were radio-collared, and were monitored to the end of 2002. Survival data were also compiled over 1982–2002 from 399 non-translocated, resident wolves in the same general area.

8 

A systematic review published in 2010 of studies in forest and savanna areas in Venezuela and Brazil (Isasi-Catala 2010) found insufficient evidence to determine whether or not translocating jaguars Panthera onca reduced livestock predation by jaguars, or hunting of jaguars or whether it increased survival of translocated individuals. Ten studies met review criteria. Of these, seven provided only qualitative data, whilst the three quantitative studies had methodological limitations. No evidence was identified for effectiveness of translocation in reducing livestock predation by jaguars or reducing hunting of jaguars. Of 14 translocated jaguars, four survived translocation and the follow-up monitoring period of three weeks to eight months, four died during capture or post-release monitoring and six further animals were insufficiently monitored to determine post-release survival. Keyword and database searches were used to collect 3,200 articles evaluating jaguar translocation. Of these, 10 met pre-defined criteria for inclusion in the review.

9 

A replicated study in 2001–2008 on two savanna game reserves in Botswana (Weilenmann et al. 2010) found that following translocation of four leopards Panthera pardus involved in livestock predation, three did not survive more than six months after release. Of four stock-raiding leopards translocated to a protected area, three were shot within six months, having left the release area and resumed livestock predation. The fourth animal returned to, and settled back within, its initial capture area. By comparison, four leopards resident within the protected area had stable home ranges. Four leopards (three male and one female), which were suspected of predating livestock, were released in a protected area, 33–158 km from capture sites. These animals, and four leopards resident in the protected area (one male, three female), were monitored by a combination of radio- and satellite-tracking between April 2001 and March 2008, for between 23 days and 53 months.

10 

A controlled study in 2004–2014 across five regions of Namibia (Weise et al. 2015) found that following translocation (mostly of animals moved from sites of livestock predation), survival rates and home range sizes of leopards Panthera pardus did not differ significantly from those of resident leopards and that translocated females reproduced in the wild. The average annual survival rate of the six translocated leopards (93%) was not significantly different to that of 12 resident leopards (85%). The same applied for home range sizes (translocated: 54–481 km2; resident: 36–580 km2). Two of three translocated females reproduced in the wild, with conception occurring from eight months post-release. Livestock predation ceased for 16–29 months or entirely at pre-translocation capture sites, and was then lower (1–3 calves/year) than before translocation (5 calves in one year). Only one of six translocated leopards killed livestock (herded into range) at release sites. Eighteen leopards were trapped and fitted with GPS (14) or VHF (5) transmitter collars. Twelve were released at or close to their capture sites and six (4 ‘problem’ animals) were released at an average distance of 403 km (47–754 km) from their capture site. Translocated animals spent an average of 203 days in captivity before release. VHF-tagged leopards were monitored at least weekly and GPS-tagged individuals were monitored daily, for an average of 718 days for translocated animals and 465 days for resident animals.

11 

A replicated study in 2003–2011 of savanna and farmland at several sites across Botswana (Boast et al. 2016) found that nine of 11 cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus translocated away from farms, for livestock protection reasons, survived for less than one year. Eight translocated male cheetahs survived for 46 to at least 981 days (average 106) after release. Three females survived for 21–95 days (average 31) after release. Nine of the 11 cheetahs were known to have died (three were shot and for six, the cause of death was unknown). On one animal, the GPS-collar failed after 981 days and the outcome for one animal was unknown. Twenty-one cheetah social groups, involving 39 animals, were translocated. They were held for 0–16 days and then released 28–278 km from capture sites. Eleven translocated animals were monitored using satellite- or GPS-collars.

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.