Monitor farms to assess management tools in support of predation management training in South Africa.
According to the 2018 report by Niël Viljoen and his assessment of monitor farms the past 11 years, the most important lesson learnt is that no single management strategy is fool-proof. The secret lies within a combination of management strategies and more importantly, the understanding that these strategies should be altered to prevent predators from adapting to one specific approach.
Another key factor is that each livestock producer must fully understand the biology and behaviour patterns of predators that are to be dealt with. The results of Viljoen’s evaluation show significant success and hope for farmers in managing livestock losses. During 2008 when the first monitor farms were established, losses of 2 311 were recorded and the most recent figures for 2018 were down to 828 animals. These results did come at a price as the number of predators that had to be eliminated increased from 242 in 2008 to 526 in 2018. As this surely does not mean that all predators need to be removed from nature, it is important to understand that if predation among livestock reaches a certain level, some unwanted predators will need to be eliminated. The black-backed jackal, mainly a scavenger, is responsible for 68% of losses (Fig. 22). The preferred prey base in this case is smaller types of lambs up to 30 kg. The caracal, a bigger predator that does not like to scavenge, will go for a bigger prey base, mostly heavier than 30 kg, like lambs that have already been weaned and fully grown ewes. Predation management aims to reduce livestock losses but comes at a cost.