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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Pay farmers to compensate for losses due to predators/wild herbivores to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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  • Five studies evaluated the effects on mammals of paying farmers compensation for losses due to predators or wild herbivores to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Three studies were in Kenya and one each was in Italy and Sweden.



  • Abundance (2 studies): Two studies, in Italy and Sweden, found that compensating livestock owners for losses to predators led to increasing populations of wolves and wolverines.
  • Survival (3 studies): Three before-and-after studies (including two replicated studies), in Kenya, found that when pastoralists were compensated for livestock killings by predators, fewer lions were killed.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A before-and-after, site comparison study in 2001–2006 on a group ranch in Kajiado District, Kenya (Maclennan et al. 2009) found that compensating pastoralists for livestock predated by lions Panthera leo reduced the number of lions that pastoralists killed. Fewer lions were killed after the compensation fund commenced (five in 2003–2006) than before the fund commenced (24 in 2001–2002). Across five other group ranches, which lacked compensation funds, lion killings rose from nine in 2003 to 20 in 2004, 17 in 2005 and 32 in 2006. The lion population on the ranch where compensation was paid did not rise during the study period. The scheme was suspended from June 2003 to January 2004, April–June 2005 and in October 2005. At other times, pastoralists were compensated at market values for verified livestock losses to predators. Lower payments were made in cases of suboptimal animal husbandry. Fines were imposed for killing lions or other large predators.


A study in 1999–2009 of pasture and forest in Piedmont, Italy (Dalmasso et al. 2012) found that when compensation was paid for livestock losses to wolves Canis lupus and dogs Canis lupus familiaris, an already expanding wolf population continued to grow. Over 11 years, the number of wolf packs increased from five to 20. Over the first five of these years, the annual number of attacks by wolves or dogs on livestock rose from 47 to 156. It then remained between 95 and 154 over the following six years. The scheme was established in 1999 to mitigate farmer-wolf conflict in a region with a recolonizing wolf population. Herders were compensated for livestock losses to wolves or dogs (as it is difficult to differentiate casualties due to these predators) and paid lump sums for indirect damages. From 2006, eligibility required using subsidised predation prevention measures, such as livestock guarding dogs, corrals and night confinement.


A replicated, before-and-after study in 2003–2011 of savanna grassland across three adjacent group ranches in southern Kenya (Hazzah et al. 2014) found that compensating for livestock predated by lions Panthera leo reduced lion killings by pastoralists. Prior to offering compensation, up to 25 lions/year were killed on two ranches and up to 10/year on the third. After introducing compensation payments, 2–15 lions/year were killed on two ranches and none was recorded killed on the third ranch. Compensating for loses was overall estimated to reduce lion killing by 87–91%. Compensation was paid for verified livestock losses to lions at the three group ranches between 2003 and 2008. Lion mortality data from 2003 to 2011 were collated primarily from community informants and direct interviews with lion hunters.


A study in 1996–2011 on tundra in northern Sweden (Persson et al. 2015) found that compensating reindeer herders for losses to wolverines Gulo gulo by paying for successful wolverine reproduction events was associated with an increase in wolverine abundance. The wolverine population grew at an annual rate of 4%. Male wolverines had a higher annual risk of being illegally killed (21%) than did female wolverines (8%), suggesting that payments were a greater disincentive to illegal killing of females. From 1996, payment rates to reindeer herders changed from being dependent on losses to predation to payment for documented wolverine reproductions (irrespective of predation levels). Population demography data were obtained from 95 wolverines (≥2 years old) radio-tracked in 1996–2011.


A before-and-after study in 2002–2013 in a savanna group ranch in the Amboseli–Tsavo ecosystem, Kenya (Bauer et al. 2017) found that after introduction of a scheme to compensate for livestock killed by predators, fewer lions Panthera leo were killed or poisoned by pastoralists. Fewer lions were killed and poisoned during the six years after the scheme started (killed: 6; poisoned: 0) than the six years before (killed: 33; poisoned: 12). The number of livestock killed by lions did not differ significantly between the five years after the scheme commenced (cattle: 47–144/year; sheep and goats: 6–104/year) and the year before (cattle: 109; sheep and goats: 43). The study was conducted in a 1,133-km2 group ranch, inhabited by 17,000 people and 20–30 lions. A compensation scheme for livestock killed by predators commenced in 2008. Livestock owners could claim between 35% and 70% of the market value of depredated livestock. The number of lions killed directly or poisoned was monitored between 2002 and 2013.

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.