For owners of livestock living around the Waza National Park in Cameroon, having to live with the threat of lions is a part of their daily reality. While the loss of human life is not something that is often reported in the region, the loss of livestock is all too real, costing herders up to $ 1000 US per family every year. These losses were investigated in 2007, along with why the herders continued to have their animals graze so close to lion hunting grounds, by scientists from the Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University and the Institute of Environmental Sciences.
The team of scientists found that for those people who lived closest to the Waza National Park, they had much better access to both pastures and water. At the same time, however, these were the herders who sustained the greatest losses in livestock. For the herdsmen, they felt as though the benefits of better grazing and water for their animals, far outweighed what it cost them because of lion kills.
The researchers also found that for those that had cattle, the increase to the loss of both goat and sheep to lions was far greater likely because goat and sheep grazed alongside the cows much further away from the villages. In addition, with more numbers of goat and sheep mixed in amongst the cows, lions were able to approach the livestock without being noticed. According to herdsmen, some lions would even follow nomadic herds outside the park during the wet season while still others were bold enough to also raid livestock that remained in villages they passed by. For herdsmen that tried to chase away lions, they ended up with greater losses to their herds likely because with all the confusion of the scattering animals, lions were able to take advantage of the situation.
In one case, while some villagers were being interviewed by the researchers, about.62 miles from where they were, three sheep and a calf were found to have lion bite marks on their necks – killed while the interviews were taking place. The herdsmen indicated that while the lions took one sheep with them, they left the other animals behind – something that they found was all too familiar when it came to lions attacking their herds. Since the herdsmen are Muslim, they can't eat the leftover meat as it must be killed by a Muslim in order to consume it.
In Cameroon where lion attacks on domestic herds were taking place, because it was in an Islamic part of the country, dogs for guarding livestock was not an option (dogs are considered dirty and unclean in the Muslim faith), however, the research team did recommend putting in thorn enclosures (called bomas), or, increasing the number of herdsmen so as to change overall herding methods.
Lion stuffed animals have no interest whatsoever in killing [plush] sheep, goats, or cows. In fact, all of them will live in relative harmony in the same home if you so choose. So as to ensure your lion stuffed animals don't ever get out of hand, you must agree to form close and passionate attachments to these particular soft toys, which means they will expect for you to curl up in bed with them and take them with you wherever you go. Just remember to ensure your plush lion is treated like a member of the family and shower it with lots of love and attention as much as possible.
Copyright Shelley Vassall, 2010.