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Pathways towards coexistence with large carnivores in production systems

Abstract

Coexistence between livestock grazing and carnivores in rangelands is a major challenge in terms of sustainable agriculture, animal welfare, species conservation and ecosystem function. Many effective non-lethal tools exist to protect livestock from predation, yet their adoption remains limited. Using a social-ecological transformations framework, we present two qualitative models that depict transformative change in rangelands grazing. Developed through participatory processes with stakeholders from South Africa and the United States of America, the models articulate drivers of change and the essential pathways to transition from routine lethal management of carnivores towards mutually beneficial coexistence. The pathways define broad actions that incorporate multiple values in grazing systems including changes to livestock management practices, financial support, industry capacity building, research, improved governance and marketing initiatives. A key finding is the new concept of ‘Predator Smart Farming’, a holistic and conscientious approach to agriculture, which increases the resilience of landscapes, animals (domesticated and wild) and rural livelihoods. Implementation of these multiple pathways would lead to a future system that ensures thriving agricultural communities, secure livelihoods, reduced violence toward animals, and landscapes that are productive and support species conservation and coexistence.

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Fig. 1

Adapted from Jacobs et al. 2016)

Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Data availability

The interview questions are available to review upon request and/or can be provided as supplementary material.

Code availability

MAXQDA software (VERBI GmbH version 18.2.0).

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Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the individuals who reviewed the models featured in this publication. This research was generously supported by the Research Excellence Scholarship provided by the University of Technology Sydney. The South African research was facilitated by the Landmark Foundation who acknowledge support from the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Global Environmental Facility, Green Fund, United Nations Environmental Program, United Nations Development Program, and Landmark Foundation Trust.

Funding

The research has been supported by the Research Excellence Scholarship provided by the University of Technology Sydney.

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Contributions

LB conducted the data collection (workshop and interviews), analysed the data and drafted the majority of the manuscript. Dr J conducted the data collection (workshop and South African interviews), assisted with analysis and interpretation of results, contributed to the discussion and reviewed the manuscript. Dr. W assisted with identifying and recruiting stakeholders to interview, helped to refine thinking and interpretation of results. Dr. MM reviewed the manuscript and contributed to refining the South African model and clarified the South African context. SS identified and assisted with recruiting American stakeholders to interview, reviewed and contributed to the United States model and clarified the US context. SS identified and recruited American stakeholders to interview, reviewed and contributed to the United States model and clarified the USA context. Dr. S identified and recruiting South Africa stakeholders to interview, reviewed and contributed to the South African model and clarified the country context. HZ contributed ideas about human-carnivore coexistence, the need for financial resiliency on ranches to foster coexistence and refined thinking in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to L. Boronyak.

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ETH18-2568—HREC University of Technology Sydney.

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All of the stakeholders engaged in the research provided informed consent to participate in the research.

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I declare that this is original work and has not been published before, nor is it under consideration for publication anywhere else. This publication has been approved by all co-authors as well as by the responsible authorities.

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Boronyak, L., Jacobs, B., Wallach, A. et al. Pathways towards coexistence with large carnivores in production systems. Agric Hum Values (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-021-10224-y

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Keywords

  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Animal welfare
  • Human-wildlife coexistence
  • Extensive grazing
  • Social-Ecological Systems