The goal of animal conservationists is to support the survival of wildlife. This may entail defending anti-poaching laws, preserving habitat, and creating chances for neighborhood education. However, there is another significant conflict that affects many locations and is just as significant: the interactions between animals and people. It’s common for wildlife to feed on cattle, which can lead to retribution. Fortunately, scientists at the University of South Wales have discovered a non-intrusive method to promote peaceful coexistence.
The researchers spent four years investigating what might happen if they painted eyespots on the backs of cattle in collaboration with Botswana Predator Conservation and neighborhood herders. The outcomes surprised everyone. Those members of the herd painted with eyes had a far higher chance of surviving than those painted with plain cross marks or without any markings at all.
This intriguing and creative method makes advantage of the idea of defensive mimicry, which is already common among many animals. Following extensive monitoring, scientists concluded that the major predators targeting the animals were lions. The painted eyes served as a deterrent to these lions, which pounce on their victims by surprise. The feeling that their search has been ruined served to deter any potential attackers.
It’s an important discovery that will benefit farmers who reside near conservation property. Conflict is inevitable in these regions because animals may easily enter farms and slaughter priceless livestock. To safeguard their herd, many of these farmers subsequently use unlawful methods to kill animals. They might be able to preserve their animals without damaging the wildlife if they add this straightforward step to their toolkit.
How effective is this method? 2,061 cattle were watched during the course of the four-year research during 49 painting sessions. There were 24 days in each session. The herds were divided into thirds; one third received painted eyes, one third received a straightforward cross painting, and the remaining third was left unmarked. Over the course of four years, none of the 683 cattle with painted eyes perished. Four of the 583 cross-painted animals also perished, while 15 of the 835 cattle that weren’t painted perished at the hands of lions.
Of course, the system cannot be completely foolproof. The researchers note that if the entire herd was painted, there would be no clear targets and the findings would have been different. They advise painting the herd’s most prized animals as a result. Additionally, like with other non-lethal strategies, lions can get used to the deterrent and still attack. The inexpensive method, however, is still an important tool for maintaining harmony between farmers and wildlife and is simply one more step in teaching the neighborhood about how people and animals can coexist.
h/t: [The Conversation]