In sub-Saharan Africa human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a growing conservation issue and human-elephant conflict (HEC) is of special concern. Crop loss to wildlife comprises a main component of HWC. Deterrent methods for crop loss are numerous and such schemes could be more effective by an improved understanding of how farmers’ perceptions align with actual causes of crop loss. Our objective was to compare the perception by farmers of the causes and extent of crop damage to the measured crop damage in fields of maize (Zea mays) using different deterrent methods. We interviewed agriculturalists in the farming village of Miti Mirefu in northern Tanzania and documented the amount and causes of crop damage. Most participants were accurate in their perception of damage, but those who were not, tended to overestimate damage. Elephant damage was infrequent but severe and participants attributed crop damage to elephants more than any other cause. Agriculturalists must also realize the detrimental effects of regular, low-level impacts such as water-scarcity and small-scale crop raiders. Our methodological approach could be useful in other areas where elephants are one but not the sole contributing factor to crop loss. In such locales, aligning human perception and actual causation of crop loss could result in more efficient and effective crop protection programs.


Animal Studies | Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Environmental Studies | Life Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences