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The drivers and extent of poison use by Namibia’s communal farmers: Implications for averting the African vulture crisis

  • Christie A. Craig
  • Robert L. Thomson
  • Marco Girardello
  • Andrea Santangeli
Research Article


The use of poison by farmers to control livestock predators is a major threat to vulture populations across Eurasia and Africa. While there is now some understanding of poison use on freehold farmland regions in southern Africa, the prevalence and drivers of this practice are still unknown in communal farmlands. We surveyed 353 communal farmers in Namibia to assess the prevalence of reported poison use and intended poison use and the factors associated with both. We used the Randomised Response Technique, a method deemed to yield more robust estimates of the prevalence of sensitive behaviours compared to direct questioning. We found 1.7% of communal farmers admitted to using poison in the last year. Furthermore, across the study region, predicted poison use was the highest (up to 7%) in areas of the upper north-west. The identified ‘hotspots’ of poison use will assist conservation practitioners to focus their poison-mitigation efforts centred in the areas of the highest need.


African vulture crisis Communal Conservancy Farmer Human–wildlife conflict Poison use 



We appreciate the time given by every farmer who participated in this research. We thank Ndapanda Kasaona and Ndina Hapinge for their translation services in the field. We are grateful to Liz Komen, Chris Brown, Holger Kolberg, the MET, Annatjie du Preez, NACSO, Basilia Shivute, Teo Ntinda, Andrew Malherbe, Vince and Edgar Naude, Timm Hoffmann and Jane Turpie for their advice and support while planning and implementing this research. We thank the British Ecological Society, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation fund (Project Number: 142510056) and the National Research Foundation for funding the field work for this research. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Lastly, we thank the Agra stores in Opuwo, Omaruru, Khorixas and Outjo for allowing us to survey in their stores.

Supplementary material

13280_2018_1128_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (40 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 41 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christie A. Craig
    • 1
  • Robert L. Thomson
    • 1
  • Marco Girardello
    • 2
  • Andrea Santangeli
    • 3
  1. 1.DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, FitzPatrick Institute of African OrnithologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Azorean Biodiversity Group (cE3c)Universidade dos AçoresAngra do HeroísmoPortugal
  3. 3.The Helsinki Lab of OrnithologyFinnish Museum of Natural History, University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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