Astrid Zabel:
New Policy Approaches to Resolve Carnivore-Livestock Conflicts in the Tropics


Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Department of Environmental Sciences, Switzerland

Conservation of large carnivores is an important component of the global societies' goal to conserve biodiversity. However, carnivore-livestock conflicts often impose serious hardship on poor livestock owners in marginal areas. Around the world, ex"=post compensation schemes have been installed to compensate livestock owners for losses due to predation by endangered carnivores. Although well intended, these ex"=post compensation schemes often do not provide explicit incentives for conservation.

This paper reviews case studies on carnivore-livestock conflicts in the tropics that focus on compensation schemes. Typical problems that recurrently are mentioned in connection to ex"=post compensation such as moral hazard, high transaction costs, long time lags, and problems of trust and transparency are discussed.

A new performance payment approach is proposed as alternative to ex-post compensation. Under the proposed scheme, livestock owners are rewarded based on the number of carnivore offspring that are borne on their livestock's grazing area. These payments are made independent of actual livestock losses. Performance payments belong to the larger group of payments for environmental services. Currently, this approach is only being tested at a large scale in Sweden.

Since allocating the payments to individuals may prove to be intricate in a carnivore conservation context, making payments to groups of livestock owners is proposed. Devolving the right to decide on the internal use and distribution of payments to groups, e.g communities, may be advantageous but is also likely to give rise to new challenges.

The hypothesis set up in this paper is that a performance payment scheme, if well adjusted to local circumstances in the tropics, may be able to align conservation with poverty alleviation. While certainly not a panacea, performance payments may be an interesting alternative use of funds that are currently spent on ex-post compensation.

Keywords: Carnivore conservation, livestock, performance payments, poverty alleviation


Contact Address: Astrid Zabel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Department of Environmental SciencesUniversitaetsstr. 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, November 2007