The economic cost of large stock predation in the North West province of South Africa
Badenhorst, Coenraad Geldenhuys
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Predation is a problem for livestock farmers in many parts of the world and increasing losses are ascribed to predation. The black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and caracal (Caracal caracal) are two important medium size predator species among South African wildlife, but they have a negative impact on the livestock industry in South Africa, especially on small livestock such as sheep and goats. These two predators and also brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), dogs (Canis familiaris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) are responsible for losses of small and large livestock in several provinces. A number of studies have focused on the cost of predation on small livestock, specifically the direct cost of predation, and only a few studies have looked at the different methods to help farmers to minimise or eliminate losses due to predation. However, no study has quantified the direct as well as the indirect cost of predation on cattle in South Africa. The study focussed on predation losses of cattle in South Africa. A sample of 1 500 cattle farmers was divided between provinces in relation to the number of cattle in provinces as percentage of the national cattle herd. The Western Cape and Gauteng did not want to participate in the study; the structured questionnaire was used to conduct a survey by telephone with the remaining sample size of 1 344 cattle farmers in seven (7) provinces. For the purpose of this report (dissertation) only the North West province was explored in detail and the primary information for the six other provinces are included as appendices. Three main objectives were pursued, namely: to quantify the direct and indirect losses ascribed to predation; to determine the impact of predation on the large livestock industry in the North West province; to investigate the underlying structures in the predation prevention practices used by farmers in the North West province; to improve the understanding of the current behaviour of the farmers in preventing predation, and to investigate the factors that influence predation in the North West province, in order to identify prevention approaches that are associated with reduced predation. Such information may contribute to the identification of possible best management practices for predation prevention. The study (reported in the dissertation) was conducted in the four magisterial districts of the North West province namely: Bojanala Platinum District, Bophirima District, Ngaka Modiri Molema District and Southern District. The sample size of this study was 238 respondents who farmed commercially with a total of 122 780 head of cattle or 16% of the total number of cattle in the North West province. Telephonic interviews were used to collect data from the farmers. The structured questionnaire included questions on topics such socio-economic factors, managerial factors and the methods used to protect the livestock. The majority of the losses in the four magisterial districts of the North West province were caused by the black-backed jackal followed by the caracal. The percentage of losses due to the caracal is markedly lower than those caused by the black-backed jackal. The reason for the lower predation is not clear, but it is speculated that it may be a result of the smaller population of the caracal and the fact that caracal are solitary predators and do not hunt in groups. The direct cost of predation losses (cattle) in the North West province was estimated at ZAR67 776 800, when extrapolating predation losses on a provincial basis. The indirect cost of predation in the North West province was divided into a lethal cost of predation (ZAR7 455 333) and the non-lethal cost (ZAR9 087 653). Therefore, the total cost of predation in the North West province was estimated at ZAR84 319 786. This study showed that 37% of farmers in the North West province use lethal control methods and only 14% use non-lethal methods of control. The lethal preventing methods are divided into six types of methods that include: shooting predators at night with spotlights (15%), using specialist hunters (6%), foothold traps (1%), cage traps (8%), hunting with dogs (2%) and poison (5%). The non-lethal methods are: herdsmen (8%), electric fences (1%), jackal proof fences (<1%), kraaling (4%) and guarding dogs (1%). The list of methods available in the toolkit for farmers to manage predation on cattle is shorter than for sheep and goat farmers. Most appropriate methods available to farmers to control predation or mitigate the impact of predation (non-lethal and lethal) on cattle were used by respondents. However, none of these methods when used individually or when a few were used in combination, proved to be a one-for-all solution at the provincial level. At the district level there were indications that some methods were more effective in reducing the impact of predation. The information suggests that all the appropriate methods and equipment available must be incorporated in the local predation management approach and strategy. The data were used to investigate the underlying structures and also to identify the best management practices. The principal component regression (PCR) tools were used to analyse the data and deal with the problem of multi co-linearity. The Pairwise Granger Causality test was used to analyse the direction of causality. The study included 42 different explanatory variables that were divided into four groups namely: socio-economic factors, managerial factors, lethal control methods and non-lethal control methods. There were 11 significant variables in the PCR (Logit) and 22 significant variables in the PCR (Truncated). The causality tests showed that none of the Logit variables had a Granger cause, but there were two Tobit variables that had a Granger cause. These two lethal methods had a negative effect on the level of predation. These results were unexpected, but this effect may be because of inexperienced farmers who kill predators that do not cause problems thereby causing a “vacuum” effect of new predators moving in. The conclusions of Van Niekerk (2010) were confirmed, namely the factors that affect the occurrence of predation and those factors that affect the level of predation are not the same. This study does not provide definitive answers to predation, but it helps to understand predation better with a view to develop appropriate management solutions. The total direct and indirect cost of predation on cattle in the different provinces and South Africa was: Western Cape - NA; Northern Cape - ZAR19 943 079; Free State - ZAR117 600 433; Eastern Cape - ZAR4 827 237; KwaZulu-Natal - ZAR66 027 879; Mpumalanga - ZAR43 938 376; Limpopo - ZAR46 486 017; Gauteng - NA; North West - ZAR84 319 786; South Africa - ZAR383 142 807. In summary, the respondents in six (6) of the seven (7) provinces ascribed the majority of the predation losses on cattle to the black-backed jackal. The exception was the Limpopo province where the leopard was implicated to account for most of the predation losses on cattle. In some provinces the second most predation losses were ascribed either to the caracal, brown hyaena, leopard, dogs or cheetah. It should be noted that some uncertainty may exist in the ability of farmers to identify positively the specific predator responsible for the losses. In some cases secondary scavenging on cattle may also have been mistaken for predation. It clearly calls for increased efforts to increase the skills of farmers to identify the specific methods used by predators to catch and eat their prey. The widespread negative impact of predation losses to sheep, goats and cattle can hardly be ignored any longer. A third study by the UFS will soon commence to estimate the impact of predation on the wildlife ranching sector. Currently the approach to manage predation is fragmented and uncoordinated. The scale and impact of predation in South Africa calls for a focused and coordinated predation management and research programme to reduce (mitigate) the negative impact of predation.
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Badenhorst, Coenraad Geldenhuys (University of the Free State, 2014-07)Predation is a problem for livestock farmers in many parts of the world and increasing losses are ascribed to predation. The black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and caracal (Caracal caracal) are two important medium size ...
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Badenhorst, Coenraad Geldenhuys (University of the Free State, 2014-07)English: Predation is a problem for livestock farmers in many parts of the world and increasing losses are ascribed to predation. The black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and caracal (Caracal caracal) are two important ...