Use dogs to guard crops to reduce human-wildlife conflict

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects on mammals of using dogs to guard crops to reduce human-wildlife conflict. This study was in Zimbabwe.





  • Human-wildlife conflict (1 study): A replicated study in Zimbabwe found that people with dogs took longer to repel African elephants from crops compared to scaring them by using combinations of people, dogs, slingshots, drums, burning sticks, large fires and spraying with capsicum.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 1995–1996 in agricultural fields surrounded by savanna in Sebungwe, Zimbabwe (Osborn 2002) found that African elephants Loxodonta africana took longer to be repelled from agricultural fields when scared only by people with dogs Canis lupus familiaris than by combinations of people, dogs, slingshots, drums, burning sticks, large fires and when sprayed with capsicum. Relative effects of the individual deterrents cannot be separated. Elephants were repelled more slowly when scared by one person with dogs (14 minutes) than when scared by people with dogs and slingshots, drums and burning sticks (10 minutes), by people with dogs, drums and large fires (4 minutes) or when sprayed with capsicum oleoresin (2 minutes). The study was conducted in communal lands surrounding a research area. Attempts were made to deter elephants raiding crops, 15 times by one person with dogs, 11 times by 4–7 people with dogs, drums and large fires, 11 times by 2–3 people with dogs and slingshots, drums and burning sticks and 18 times using a spray with 10% capsicum oleoresin. Behavioural responses were monitored using a monocular. Distance between elephants and farmers was 20–40 m. Tests were conducted between 18:30 and 06:30 h. The number of fields was not reported.

    Study and other actions tested
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.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation - Published 2020

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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