Introduction: A frequently reported cause of conflict between wild felids and farmers is depredation of domestic livestock, particularly sheep, goats and cattle (Inskip and Zimmerman, 2009). Anatolian Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGDs) have been utilised on South African farmlands for over a decade as a conservation tool to mitigate such conflict between farmers and wild predators, as an alternative to indiscriminate lethal measures. These LGDs have been shown to successfully reduce livestock depredation by up to 100% (Rust et al. 2014), but farmer motivation for obtaining a LGD was not assessed. This research was designed to explore the factors affecting participation in an established LGD programme and alternate measures of success, by utilising social research methods.Methodology: This was a revealed-preferences study utilising a sample of farmers that were recruited onto the Cheetah Outreach (CO) LGD programme in South Africa. Interviews were used to conduct a qualitative survey consisting of open- and close-ended questions; administered telephonically and face to face. Pearson Chi-square tests of independence were used to test for association between variables in cross-tabulation. Main Results: A response rate of 98% was achieved. Respondents with prior knowledge of LGDs (n = 75) more often contacted CO in the first instance, (1(n = 99) = 4.657, p = 0.031). With each successive year, a greater proportion of new placements were recruited passively (at less cost to CO). Farmers rated the effect of predation independently of actual losses that they had reported prior to receiving the LGD: with huge variation in ratings given. Primary motivations for joining the programme for 85% (n = 88) of farmers were livestock protection and reduction in financial losses. Of the respondents, 94% were very or completely satisfied, and 98% would recommend the use of LGDs to others.
Principle Conclusions: Effective human-wildlife conflict mitigation should focus on achieving goals that are in the interests of the stakeholder. Prior knowledge facilitates programme participation; the importance of word of mouth communication, and extension agents as trusted sources within a close community must not be overlooked. Stakeholder perceptions of success are an important part of evaluating conservation initiatives.