Effects of culling mesopredators on livestock loses

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Friday, 6th September 2019

Culling recolonizing mesopredators increases livestock losses:
Evidence from the South African Karoo

Nattrass, N., Conradie, B., Stephens, J, Drouilly, M.

Ambio (2019) 1-10
A Journal of the Human Environment


Abstract:  Populations of adaptable mesopredators are expanding globally where passive rewilding and natural recolonization are taking place, increasing the risk of
conflict with remaining livestock farmers. We analysed data from two social surveys of farmers in the Karoo, South Africa, where black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) and caracals (Caracal caracal) have re-emerged as a threat to sheep farms in the context of falling agricultural employment and the expansion of natural areas. We show that irrespective of measurement approach, lethal control of mesopredators in this fragmented socioeconomic landscape was associated with increased livestock losses the following year. Terrain ruggedness was positively, and number of farmworkers negatively, associated with livestock losses. Our study provides further evidence that lethal control of mesopredators in this context is probably counter-productive and supports calls to develop, share and financially support a range of nonlethal methods to protect livestock, especially where natural recolonization of mesopredators is occurring.

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