Insurance and compensation

People living on private or communal land near protected conservation areas with potentially dangerous game are asked to assist, either directly or indirectly, with their conservation despite substantial burden and personal risk. Too often the solution to having unwanted dangerous game on private land comes from the barrel of a rifle. One possible way of mitigating this human-wildlife conflict is to set up compensation schemes that directly pay individuals for damage caused to livestock, game or property. It must be made abundantly clear that compensation for livestock or game loss by predators should be considered only as a last resort and under clearly defined terms. Outreach programs should aim to encourage people to find ethical ways to better protect their livestock and change attitudes towards predators as a whole. Compensation schemes are fraught with complications such as false claims, delayed response to payments, claims for wild game losses and persistently negligent husbandry of livestock. Clear evidence of what caused the damage is needed before compensation can be considered. This is one of the most critical challenges of compensation schemes, spoor and other evidence can disappear very soon after damage is caused.

A major concern with compensation schemes is that, when it is an option, people can become less risk-averse. Knowing that money can be claimed for damage they may be less likely to adopt new, or update existing, mitigation and management practises that discourage conflict in the first place. It is for these, among other, reasons that most government reserves do not offer compensation as a rule (Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife is an exception although such a policy is under review and only relates to damage caused by reintroduced species).

Some privately owned reserves, with more funds, may have insurance policies. These insurance policies cover damages caused by dangerous game from their properties. Basic ‘dangerous game’ cover would cost approximately R8000 per annum (this value is obviously variable depending on the insurance company used and type of cover required).