The International Wildlife Coexistence Network strives to provide direct guidance to projects on the ground. Our Wildlife Coexistence Innovation Challenge brings experts together with active projects that need some additional guidance and new ideas to address wildlife challenges.
Our first challenge focused on the Wolves of the Levant project, run by Compassionate Conservation Middle East (CCME).
CCME is working in the Golan Heights region to assess the functional role of wolves; improve the maintenance of ecological systems; and promote coexistence between humans and wolves. The region is home to about 60% of Israel’s free ranging domestic ungulates. It is also inhabited by large predators such as the gray wolf, golden jackals, and threatened wild ungulates such as the mountain gazelle.
Once rare, calf depredation by wolves began increasing in the 1990s. Studies showed 57% of the wolves’ diet was comprised of domestic animals such as poultry or calves. The study provided ground for the Agricultural Ministry, via the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), to issue permits for killing wolves. An average of 48 wolves were killed per year during 2008-2012 and 30 wolves were killed per year between 2016-2017.
Our Coexistence Council experts provided guidance on several issues and continue to consult with the CCME team.
- Social research that aims to understand ranchers’ attitudes towards local carnivores and perceptions of ways to reduce livestock predation. This social component is an important part of gaining the trust and cooperation of ranchers to let the research team onto their farm and to test the effectiveness of nonlethal tools and practices suited to the local context.
- Advice on Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD), including appropriate fencing to keep wild predators out and LGDs and livestock in; and how to build and use bonding pens to socialize young LGDs with the livestock for protection in the field.
- The importance of understanding the cause of cattle loss from disease, theft, bad weather or rough terrain, so that all cattle deaths are not attributed to wolves.
- How to communicate with ranchers about the benefits of wolves: For example, wolves help clean up carcasses and prevent disease spread and displace smaller predators such as jackals which are perceived to be responsible for the majority of calf predation. However, nonlethal tools and practices need to be used to protect livestock from predation by wolves.
“We received extremely valuable information about underlying fundamental issues and the tools we should consider using.” Dr. Dror Ben-Ami, Academic Associate, CCME
Our Coexistence Council will continue to consult with Dr. Ben-Ami and his team, to provide advice as they continue their efforts to encourage the use of coexistence tools in Golan Heights.
Special thanks to the Laurence S. Weiss and Edith G. Weiss Foundation for their support of this effort.