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The remaining South African lions are distributed in small fenced reserves where management is difficult and controversial. Cheetahs too are mainly confined to East and Southern Africa. Kruger has about 200 cheetahs as does the Kgalagadi. Like the lion there are also a number of cheetahs in small fenced reserves which present similar management problems to those experienced with lion. A potential solution is the formation of conservancies where small reserves can be expanded through dropping fences and cooperation between land owners. Little is known about this, the smallest of Africa’s cats, and its distribution is poorly documented. The caracal is a stock killer and farmers have waged an ineffective war on this species for many years.

The serval and the African wild cat should not be seen as problem animals as both feed predominantly on small mammals, especially rodents, and are widespread. Outside protected areas lion and cheetah are likely to come into conflict with people through predation on livestock and farmed game. Therefore large protected areas are critical for their long-term conservation. However, innovative techniques to protect livestock from predation such as the erection of effective kraals and, in the case of cheetahs, the use of guard dogs to protect the livestock help to allow these large carnivores to co-exist with people in some areas provided there is enough wild game to sustain them.

However, where game farming is the predominant form of land use the problems are often more severe than with domestic livestock as these animals can’t be herded into kraals at night. In some counties like Botswana and Tanzaniacarefully applied and sustainable trophy hunting has lead to the maintenance of some lion populations outside of protected areas. In this situation it is critical that local people are able to benefit from the hunting. Not only do these hunting areas provide habitat for large carnivore populations, but they provide shelter for a wide range of other species and habitats.

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