Humans and wildlife are in constant competition for resources around the world. In South Africa, specifically in the Garden Route, this competition for resources can be observed between humans and chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in particular. As land throughout the region is transformed into housing developments, shopping centers, farmland, and other human-dominated landscapes, natural vegetation becomes increasingly scarce. With this reduction in natural resources available for baboons to feed on, they are forced into these human-dominated landscapes - particularly agricultural crops - to forage for food (see here and here, for example). This results in crop damage, time and resources being funneled towards mitigating this damage, and economic loss on the part of farmers throughout the region. Large (but unknown) numbers of baboons are killed each year, and survivors are often left maimed with limbs or tails cut off. Both farmers and baboons are trying to maintain their livelihoods and survive, and current methods of preventing, reducing, or mitigating crop raiding by baboons are not proving effective or sustainable.
In this study, I will examine the methods currently used by farmers to prevent or reduce damage to their crops caused by baboon raiding and assess how effective they are. I will determine whether the height of the crop is associated with the success of the method being used. This will help to achieve my project goal of identifying the most effective method(s) for farmers to use at a given time for a given crop. Farmers will assist in data collection after training and their data will be verified through camera trap images, other photographs, and in-person visits. In my analyses I will utilize data including: deterrent method used, height of crops during raids, success of raids, farmer attitudes towards baboons, baboon habitat use in the study areas, time of raids, number of baboons in a raid, type of crop raided, part of crop damaged, and extent of damage. I will examine these data for patterns in baboon crop raiding behaviour and deterrent method success. A final presentation and report will be made for participating farmers and the public, and participating farmers will be consulted for feedback during the report drafting stage. Through collaboration with farmers and the use of agricultural, ecological, behavioural, and interview data, I hope to improve our understanding of the nuances of baboon crop raiding behaviour and to apply this knowledge to future doctoral work on the development of more effective and sustainable crop raiding deterrent methods.
Your contribution* to this research project will aid in funding the following activities, items, and services necessary for this study during its 2018 phase:
- Travel to farms
- Vehicle hire
- Lodging when necessary
- Supplies & Consumables
- Camera traps
- Log books for farmers
- Tape measures
- Cell phone airtime for SMS communication with study participants
- Statistical software
General Timeline For 2018 Phase:
- April 2018
- Project permits finalized
- May 2018
- Purchase supplies, schedule farm visits
- June - August 2018
- Data collection (farm visits, farmer interviews, mount camera traps, train farmers,
- September - December 2018
- Data analysis, report writing
* Your contribution will be applied only to costs for this project and a document of expenses will be made available to all contributors so they may see exactly where contributions are spent.