Predation management proof to be effective

Livestock farmers have their challenges and with the assistance of Predation Management SA (PMSA) monitor farms, a standard has been set to assist and train producers to reduce the impact of predation, whilst still being financially viable.

According to a report by PMSA on the period 2008 to 2020, the impact that management has had on both livestock and predators is clearly visible. In 2008 there were 3 320 livestock losses due to predators, a substantial loss for farmers and the livestock industries, both meat and wool.

Over the thirteen-year period these losses were gradually reduced to 1 133 animals by 2020, a remarkable improvement of 65.9%.

At the start of the programme in 2008 there was a total elimination of 261 damage causing predators on these farms, which increased to 578 in 2020. This represents 317 more predators removed in 2020 compared to 2008, an increase of 121.5%.

It is important to emphasise that the programme involves not only the management of predators, but also the removal of unwanted predators where necessary. This would normally be predators that cause losses on a continuous basis. Examples are both the black back jackal and caracal, that have learnt quickly that livestock kept in smaller enclosures during the night are easy prey.

Another example is where the black backed jackal gets used to the existence of Anatolian guard dogs and they simply outnumber and outsmart these dogs during daytime, causing substantial losses amongst the livestock.

Predation management is therefore not about eliminating all predators (generally referred to as predator control), but rather predation management. This involves utilising all available methods, lethal as well as non-lethal, implying to firstly manage livestock and then control and manage predators. The objective is to assist farmers to minimise their losses due to predation, increase weaning percentages and consequently financial benefits which then contribute to a financially viable farming enterprise.

The reduction of losses due to predation is a remarkable achievement. On the twenty-seven monitor farms, average livestock losses were recorded at 13.2% in 2008. With good management losses due to predation, were only 2.7% in 2020. Although maybe not perfect, this is surely a more acceptable and affordable figure for any livestock farmer.

The achievements in livestock- and predation management were accomplished by means of the three fundamental pillars directly responsible for this success story:

  • Experimenting (with management strategies and control methods in the toolbox).
  • Training.
  • Research.