Studying the conflict between predators and small livestock farmers in the Central Karoo

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Friday, 30th November 2018

Spatial, temporal and attitudinal dimensions of conflict between predators and small-livestock farmers in the Central Karoo

Drouilly, M., Tafani, M., Nattrass, N., O’Riain, J.
African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 35:3-4, 245-255.

Conflict between predators and small-livestock farmers is a global phenomenon adversely impacting the
preservation of wildlife, the well-being of livestock and human livelihoods. Such conflict is pervasive in the Karoo
region of South Africa but its contemporary history and various causes remain poorly understood. In this study,
we interviewed 77 small-livestock farmers in the Central Karoo between July 2014 and March 2015 to (1) assess the
spatio-temporal distribution and severity of the reported predation problems with the main regional predators of
livestock (black-backed jackal, caracal and baboon) and (2) describe the perceived reasons for changes in predator
numbers. Farmers reported that serious predation problems have increased since the 1990s for all three predators.
Jackal predation appears to have re-emerged, particularly since the 2000s, while baboon predation seems to have
escalated rapidly since 2014 for select farmers. Farms with more rugged terrain were more likely to experience
serious problems with baboons and caracal but ruggedness did not predict the year of onset of problems. Farmers
perceive predator numbers to be increasing and attribute this trend to declining government support for predator
management, changes in farming practices and the associated increase in suitable predator habitat, from which
they can recolonise commercial farms.

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