Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Bear-proof fences reduce livestock losses in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China

Published source details

Papworth S.K., Kang A., Rao M., Chin S.T., Zhao H., Zhao X. & Corrasco L.R. (2014) Bear-proof fences reduce livestock losses in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Conservation Evidence, 11, 8-11

Summary

Tibetan brown bears Ursus arctos pruinosus in the Tibetan Plateau attack and kill livestock and ransack homes for food, causing significant economic costs for local herders. Although a government fund compensates herders for livestock lost to bear attacks in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (China), compensation may not reflect the real cost of losing livestock and payments can be delayed. We investigate whether bear-proof fences are a cost-effective method for reducing bear attacks and livestock losses. In January 2009, 14 bear-proof fences were constructed from wire mesh and steel posts around households which had previously experienced substantial losses to bear attacks in the Nagqu Prefecture of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. These households lost 162 animals to bears in the year before fence construction, whereas just three animals were lost in the year after fence construction. Fences were still standing 4.8 years after completion and any small damage has been repaired by households. For households that suffer substantial losses to bear attacks, bear-proof fences appear to be an effective and cost-saving intervention to reduce human-bear conflict.