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Conflicts between cattle ranching and large predators in Venezuela: could use of water buffalo facilitate felid conservation?

  • Rafael Hoogesteijn (a1) and Almira Hoogesteijn (a1)
Abstract

The mortality of water buffalo Bubalus bubalis and cattle Bos indicus and B. taurus associated with predation by jaguar Panthera onca and puma Puma concolor, both of which are categorized as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, was examined in six Venezuelan ranches. There was significantly higher cattle than buffalo mortality due to predators in all ranches. Compared to buffaloes, cattle had a greater risk of being predated. Variations in monthly predation were observed, with greater cattle mortality during the peak of the rainy season (June-July). Buffalo, but not cattle, displayed defensive behaviour against predators. We suggest that livestock mortality associated with jaguar and puma may be reduced by keeping buffaloes and cattle in the same paddock, or by keeping only buffalo. Reduction of cattle losses is needed to increase tolerance towards jaguar and puma and thus facilitate their conservation. B. bubalis has higher production than cattle in South American flooded tropical grasslands. However, buffalo kept as livestock have two limitations: (1) they may revert to their feral condition if not managed according to the requirements of the species, and (2) some markets pay low prices for buffalo meat or may be reluctant to consume buffalo products.

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Corresponding author
*CINVESTAV, Unidad Mérida, Antigua Carretera Progreso, Km 6, C.P. 97310, A.P. 73 “Cordemex” Mérida, Yucatán, México. E-mail almirahoo@mda.cinvestav.mx
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Oryx
  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
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