Botswana Predator Conservation (BPC), a program of Wild Entrust, is developing new ways to use scent as a predator repellent. This new approach may help to keep predators away from livestock and inside protected areas. Their innovative BioBoundary Project is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible in mitigating human-predator conflict.
Using artificial scents to keep predators away is not as simple as it at first seems. A typical predator scent has up to 1,000 components. Figuring out the exact message, and then being able to synthesize a mimic smell is incredibly complex. Up until now, this challenge has led most to agree that it is just not possible to achieve.
The strategy that BPC is using is to simplify the message; focus on the parts of the chemical message that are critical to the message they are trying to send. Their equivalent of a smelly “no trespassing” sign will require simple chemistry and be low cost.
In their first feasibility study, researchers at BPC showed that single chemical scents did cause responses in predators. In the video below, you can watch the reaction their chemical repellent caused in a female leopard.
Several other predators showed similar responses to short range repellants, such as that used in the leopard video. BPC also tested more potent repellents to keep predators away from livestock areas. Their successful preliminary results are exciting. As the next step, BPC will test their chemical repellents in a demonstration project with kraaled calves.