Conflicts between wildlife and human activities have a great relevance for wildlife conservation, particularly in protected areas. These conflicts are related to crop damage and livestock predation involving several species; some of them threatened such as the Andean condor, Andean bear and Andean armadillo. In order to contribute to the characterization of these conflicts and develop methods aimed toward its management, WCS worked with the National Protected Areas Service of Bolivia (SERNAP) conducting research, and identifying methods to mitigate these conflicts through analysis workshops.
Between 2001 and 2003 a study aimed to evaluate the damage caused by vertebrates in cornfields of Pajan, Wayrapata and K’apna, three communities in the ANMIN Apolobamba. The activity involved farmers in the process of investigation and mitigation of damages, and was strengthened with a thesis on this subject and by a total count of the damage caused by animals. The results calculated the percentage of losses caused by wild animals (Andean bears, skunks, rodents and parrots) in each plot, and identified mitigation measures (community work to care for cornfields, weeding the edges of plots and noise repellents). These measures helped to reduce crop losses from 6.1% to 1.5% in Pajan, from 29.4% to 2.7% in K'apna, and from 16.7% to 3.5% in Wayrapata.
Moreover, between 2005 and 2008, WCS provided technical assistance to several communities in Apolobamba on the evaluation of the major causes of livestock loss (alpacas, llamas and sheep), distinguishing between disease losses and predation events by wild animals like the Andean fox, puma, Andean bear and Andean condor. This work was developed in coordination with park rangers of the area and 279 families of the Cañahuma, Caalaya, Curva and Lagunillas communities in the Curva municipality; and Puyo Puyo and Nube Pampa in the Pelechuco municipality. This research revealed that livestock predation problems are in many cases the result of changes in cultural practices of animal husbandry, and contrary to local perceptions, predation events produced much less losses than livestock disease.
In order to reduce livestock losses from predation, measures were taken based on traditional practices recovered in participatory workshops. The measures aimed at improving corrals, implementing noise and visual repellents, and establishing shelters for the night vigilance and others. According to community mitigation records of predation events, improved corrals constituted the most effective measure, followed by chakus (community wildlife drivers to expel potential predators). These activities helped reduce the loss of 4.1 animals per family in 2005 to 1.4 animals in 2008. Likewise, monitoring of livestock diseases, training community members and veterinarians in the use of preventive measures and prompt treatment of sick animals, resulted in the reduction of disease losses from 10.4 animals per family in 2004 to 2.4 animals in 2007.