Co-defining program success for wildlife damage compensation

By: Dr Brandon Anthony (CEESP member)

CEESP Member and Central European University Professor Brandon Anthony returned to South Africa to partner with Kruger National Park (KNP) staff and local communities to develop a compensation scheme for farmers who lose livestock to predators originating from the park. The long history of damage causing animals (DCAs) that escape from KNP – a park that is comparable in size to Slovenia or Israel – was a focus of Anthony's doctoral research in 2004, and remains a contentious issue. DCAs inflict damage on persons and property, increase the probability of disease transfer between wildlife and livestock, and seriously undermine the livelihoods of local communities. Conflicts of this nature that are not adequately resolved assure the maintenance of a tense relationship between the park and communities and have a number of repercussions for building societal support for protected area establishment and management. Especially in poorer countries and countries in transition, such conflicts have the potential to undermine human security and further weaken the effectiveness and legitimacy of state institutions. Understanding these conflicts contextually can help to develop more nuanced strategies to alleviate conflicts, bringing about more positive outcomes for protected areas, wildlife, and neighboring communities.

Kruger National Park (KNP) staff and CEESP Photo: Brandon Anthony

Responses to the DCA problem at KNP have been multifaceted, including increased efforts in maintaining and upgrading the border fence, addressing an increasing elephant population, and partnering with provincial departments to improve DCA control outside the park. A more recent response involves the park and its larger governing body, SANParks, negotiating wildlife damage compensation schemes with local communities: one which entails financial reparation given to affected farmers who have previously lost livestock to DCAs and a second corollary scheme to compensate valid damage claims from 2014 onward. The first series of payments in the 118-year history of the park were disbursed to over 60 livestock farmers in June 2014.

Dr. Anthony also undertook a study to help begin to design a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) program for the scheme. KNP's management organization is interested in involving all relevant stakeholders in the assessment, including park staff and local farmers. Over 100 interviews and focus groups in addition to extensive literature reviews and document analyses was conducted to identify a wide array of goals and objectives for the compensation scheme and measures to monitor change as a result of the scheme. This study, co-authored by Louise Swemmer of SANParks, was recently published in the Journal for Nature Conservation (citation and abstract below).

Anthony, Brandon P. and Swemmer, Louise. 2015. Co-defining program success: Identifying objectives and indicators for a livestock damage compensation scheme at Kruger National Park, South Africa. Journal for Nature Conservation 26:65-77. doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2015.05.004

Abstract:

Wildlife damage compensation schemes have been used worldwide as a mechanism to mitigate human–wildlife conflicts. These have had mixed success due to a number of factors, including a lack of shared understanding of the problem and how to monitor and evaluate effectiveness. The long history of damage-causing animals (DCAs) which exit the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, inflicting damage on persons and property, increasing risk of disease transfer between wildlife and livestock, and seriously undermining the livelihoods of local communities, remains a contentious issue. As a partial response and within a strategic adaptive management framework, the park and its larger governing body, SANParks, have negotiated a wildlife damage compensation scheme with local communities, which entails financial retribution given to farmers who have previously lost livestock to DCAs originating from the park. A corollary scheme will see compensation paid to valid claims commencing from 2014. Here we present findings of a novel study undertaken with KNP staff, livestock farmers, and others to co-identify potential indicators of an objective-based participatory monitoring and evaluation program for the scheme. Based on a multi-method approach, a wide array of goals and objectives were articulated for the scheme. In addition, 88 program indicators were generated as potential measures to monitor change. This suite of indicators is both qualitative and quantitative in nature and, if adopted in whole or in part, would enlist the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders. The first step at consolidating these indicators are presented, and are based on information sources, methodological tools, and institutions responsible for monitoring.

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