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The iImpact of predation losses on beef cattle in South Africa




Badenhorst, Conrad, author
van Niekerk, Walter, author
Strydom, Dirkie, author
Jordaan, Henry, author
de Waal, HO, author
International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher

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Predation losses on livestock farms and wildlife ranches in South Africa are poorly quantified. Recently predation losses on sheep and goats in five provinces were estimated at more than ZAR 1.39 thousand million annually. Predation losses were mostly ascribed to black-backed jackals Canis mesomelas and caracal Caracal caracal. In the present study predation losses for beef cattle in seven provinces were estimated at more than ZAR 383 million annually. The random sample of 1 344 beef cattle farmers ascribed predation losses mostly to black-backed jackals, followed (indifferent order of ranking for provinces) by leopard Panthera pardus, caracal, brown hyaena Parahyaena brunnea, cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and vagrant dogs Canis familiaris. Only in Limpopo Province leopards were implicated as the major predator, followed by black-backed jackals. Beef cattle farmers have fewer methods available to manage predators than small livestock farmers. Non-lethal methods used were herdsmen, electric fences, kraaling, and livestock guard animals. The lethal methods included hunting (farmers and specialist hunters), cage traps, foothold traps, and hound packs. No non-lethal or lethal method, used individually or combined with other methods, served as a magic general solution for predation on beef cattle. The total direct and indirect costs of predation varied between provinces; for South Africa it was: total cost for lethal control – ZAR 39.522 million; total cost for non-lethal control – ZAR 89.175 million; total cost of predation losses – ZAR 254.447 million. This information is now being used to inform the development of meaningful coordinated predation management strategies.


Presented at the 9th international wildlife ranching symposium: wildlife - the key to prosperity for rural communities, held on 12-16 September 2016 at Hotel Safari & the Safari Court, Windhoek, Namibia.

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