Translocation as a non-lethal management tool to eliminate individual 'problem' animals is commonly used but rarely evaluated.
We sought to evaluate whether translocating stock-raiding leopards (Panthera pardus) into a protected area with resident conspecifics in Botswana is effective in dealing with 'problem' carnivores.
We assessed release-site fidelity, ranging behaviour, individual survival and reduction of conflict after translocation of four translocated leopards in relation to four resident conspecifics, which were tracked from 24 days up to 4 years.
None of the translocated leopards showed release-site fidelity; they either returned to the trap site or showed extensive roaming behaviour after release. Three of the four translocated leopards reportedly resumed stock-raiding and were shot when ranging outside of protected areas, which apparently was a consequence of being released into an area already occupied by territorial conspecifics. On the basis of satellite telemetry, the linear movement distance of one translocated leopard (1249 km) and the range size of three resident female leopards (513 ± 124 km2) are the largest on record.
From comparing the survival and ranging behaviour of translocated leopards with that of resident conspecifics, we conclude that translocation was not an effective management tool for dealing with stock-raiding leopards in our study.
Rather than translocating 'problem' carnivores, efforts should focus on reducing the potential for problems to develop, most importantly on improving livestock-husbandry practices.