National Geogragphic

When lions eat livestock, relocation is common—but often deadly

Rachel Nuwer  3 days ago

Wildlife conservationist Glyn Maude knows that scientists shouldn’t get attached to their research subjects. But he and his colleagues couldn’t help rooting for a six-year-old lioness they nicknamed Magigi, Botswanan for “magician,” because of her habit of disappearing.a dog lying on top of a grass covered field: Nine lions are darted and flown from Tembe and Mkuze game reserves to Mozambique.© Photograph by Ami Vitale Nine lions are darted and flown from Tembe and Mkuze game reserves to Mozambique.

After she repeatedly killed cattle outside the village of Bere, Botswana authorities captured and moved her 80 miles into Central Kalahari Game Reserve, far from people. Magigi spent most of her time within the reserve’s protective boundaries, but around the one-year anniversary of her capture, she strayed outside in pursuit of livestock and was shot dead by a farmer.

“We were hoping she’d survive long-term,” says Maude, the founder of Kalahari Research and Conservation, a nonprofit wildlife group in Botswana. “But it didn’t work out in the end, which sadly is often the way it goes.”

New research Maude and his colleagues have conducted confirms that Magigi’s unfortunate story is the norm for many relocated lions. For decades, wildlife managers in a number of African countries have used translocation as a humane way to deal with lions that repeatedly kill livestock. (Lions that attack people are euthanized). But the new research shows that after lions are moved, most continue to prey on livestock and endanger villagers’ livelihoods.

Moreover, the majority of the 13 translocated lions Maude’s team has monitored in Botswana died within a year of being moved. To read more…