The benefits of living with lions

A press release discusses the trade-off between lions and livestock around the Waza National Park in Cameroon. The people who live closest to the park enjoy the best access to grazing and water. But they also suffer the most depredations. Counterintuitively (at least at first glance) trying to chase the lions away increases predation. The authors ((L. Van Bommel, M. D. Bij de Vaate, W. F. De Boer, H. H. De Iongh (2007) Factors affecting livestock predation by lions in Cameroon. African Journal of Ecology 45 (4), 490–498. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.2007.00759.x)) suggest that the activity scatters the herd, making it easier for the lions to pick off one of the animals. Staying cool when your flock is under attack is probably hard to do. But it would be easy, I would have thought, to at least take advantage of the disaster and eat the victim, if you can chase away the lion after the kill. But no. “We can’t eat the meat, as Muslim traditions require animals to be killed by a Muslim,” one of the villagers told the researchers. Yay God!

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