Biology, ecology and interaction of other predators with livestock

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Saturday, 1st December 2018

BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY AND INTERACTION OF OTHER PREDATORS WITH LIVESTOCK

Somers, M.J., Davies-Mostert, H., Mzileni, N., Swanepoel, L.H., Do Linh San, E., Botha, A.J., Tjelele, J., Dumalisile, L., Marnewick, K., Tafani, M., Hunnicutt, M.A. Contributing Authors: Tambling, C.J., Minnie, L., Hawkins, H-J.

Livestock Predation and its Management in South Africa: A Scientific Assessment, 228.

INTRODUCTION

In South Africa, two of the smaller carnivores – caracals Caracal caracal and black-backed jackals Canis mesomelas – are reportedly responsible for most predation on small livestock (van Niekerk, 2010; Badenhorst, 2014; Kerley et al. 2017). However, other species are also implicated in livestock predation in the country including lions Panthera leo, leopards Panthera pardus, cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus, servals Leptailurus serval, African wild dogs Lycaon pictus, side-striped jackals Canis adustus, Cape foxes Vulpes chama, free-roaming dogs (feral or controlled) Canis lupus familiaris, spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta, brown hyenas Parahyaena brunnea, honey badgers Mellivora capensis, bushpigs Potamochoerus larvatus, chacma baboons Papio ursinus, Nile crocodiles Crocodylus niloticus, and various corvids and raptors (e.g. Badenhorst, 2014). While it is well known that large carnivores are important in the top-down regulation of food webs, small carnivores can also, especially in the absence of the large carnivores, play a pivotal role in ecological processes (See Do Linh San & Somers, 2013; Chapter 8). Predators can affect the density and dynamics of prey species, with cascading effects on whole ecosystems (Beschta & Ripple, 2006; Ripple & Beschta, 2007; Wallach, Johnson, Richie & O’Neill, 2010). Large predators, for example, African wild dogs, are also important tourist attractions (Lindsey, Alexander, du Toit & Mills, 2005a). The removal of large predators from an ecosystem may have many unexpected consequences, which from an ecosystem services perspective, can often be negative. In South Africa, many top-order predators have been historically extirpated from much of the land (Boshoff, Landman & Kerley, 2016), with some species (e.g. lions) now surviving mostly in formally protected areas. Some other species such as cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs, although still occurring outside protected areas, are probably dependent on them for continued survival (Mills & Hofer, 1998).

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