Human–wildlife conflict is increasingly prevalent,
particularly in relation to carnivores in non-protected areas
of Africa. Quantifying the attitudes of land owners towards
carnivores and understanding the factors that influence these
attitudes are instrumental in conservation planning and
reducing persecution-related threats to carnivores.However,
information about attitudes to carnivores in Africa, and
South Africa in particular, is scarce. To obtain such data we
interviewed 170 commercial game and livestock farmers in
two ecologically important rural areas of northern South
Africa. Responses to statements about carnivore management,
stock protection and predationwere generally positive.
However, 62% of respondents believed carnivores to be
financially damaging and 35% thought them overly abundant.
Many respondents (41%) were unwilling to tolerate
even low levels of predation and considered persecution of
carnivores to be the cheapest form of stock protection (31%).
Attitudes were significantly more positive among respondents
who did not kill carnivores than among those who did.
Generalized linear regression coupled with informationtheoretic
analysis showed that attitudes to carnivores were
determined by a combination of cultural and land-use
attributes more than by economic factors such as stock
holdings or predation losses. The results elucidate potential
targets for mitigation activities and facilitate the development
of communication, education and extension activities
specifically designed to appeal to intended recipients and
address prevalent motives for persecuting carnivores.