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ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PREDATION IN WILDLIFE RANCHING INDUSTRY

The Predation Management Centre (PMC) compiled a summary of the study completed in 2016 on the economic impact of predation in the wildlife ranching industry. The study covered the wildlife industry across South Africa, providing summaries for the economic implications of predation in each of the nine provinces. The following summary provides a broad overview of the study:

SUMMARY OF SCHEPERS (2016): THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PREDATION IN THE WILDLIFE RANCHING INDUSTRY IN LIMPOPO, SOUTH AFRICA

As compiled by Q Kruger

This study surveyed a random sample of wildlife ranchers who are members of WRSA (which comprises about 20% of privately owned wildlife properties in South Africa). The study covered all the provinces of South Africa, but focussed on the economic impact of predation on marketable wildlife in the Limpopo province because it comprises the largest body of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) members and is home to a wide range of wildlife.

Because point of sale values did not exist for the wildlife industry due to varying prices in the different wildlife sectors (e.g. prices of breeding animals are higher than for animals intended for biltong hunting), calculating the direct cost of predation may lead to over- or underestimations. Therefore, the direct cost of predation was calculated per hectare.

The study provides baseline information which can be used by wildlife ranchers to calculate the total cost due to predation on their properties, using the following equation:

Total cost = (Size of the ranch [ha] x wildlife losses x the average price of the animals) + indirect cost per ha x size of the ranch [ha])

For example: a wildlife rancher who keeps nyalas on 5 000 ha can calculate his/her estimated total cost to be ZAR 593 765/year. A wildlife rancher who keeps blesbok on 12 000 ha can incur a total cost of ZAR 668 103/year and a wildlife rancher who keeps black impala and Livingston eland on 6 000 ha can calculate his/her total cost to be ZAR 11 957 637/year.

The table below was compiled from data contained in the thesis for each of the provinces in South Africa. Gauteng is not listed in the table, because the ranches of the wildlife ranchers from Gauteng were in Limpopo.

Table 1 Summary of the wildlife losses reported in each of the Provinces.

Province

Ranchers surveyed

Hectares covered

Total predation losses

Total losses per rancher

Total losses per hectare

Limpopo

201

432 647

13 127

147

0.072

Northwest

61

140 922

2 398

123

0.052

Free State

64

109 345

2 599

174

0.076

Eastern Cape

11

38 350

1 097

109

0.072

KZN

3

3 691

564

292

0.154

Mpumalanga

4

4700

292

173

0.165

Northern Cape

8

112 600

791

163

0.013

Western Cape

2

3 856

20

20

0.007

Factors affecting the level of predation differed among the three wildlife groups (large, small, and scarce species or colour variants) in Limpopo. For instance, the level of predation on small antelope species was lower when non-lethal control such as cameras, lights and/or radios were used. In the large antelope group, predation was higher when black-backed jackals were hunted by specialist hunters. In the scarce species/colour variant antelope group, predation was higher when game ranch owners hunted caracals, but lower when owners managed predation (for example, by lights/radios and cameras)

Wildlife ranchers in Limpopo reported that wildlife losses were caused mostly by leopard, with caracal being the predator causing second most damage. Third most damage was reportedly caused by black-backed jackal (killing mainly large and small antelope species) and cheetah (killing mainly scarce species/colour variant wildlife species).

The study found that game ranchers who physically counted the antelope on their game ranchers reported higher predation than those who estimated losses, because the exact number of losses are known. It is also suggested that physical counting places stress on the animals, which may make them more susceptible to predation.

The study concluded that predation losses will always occur on game ranches, but can be reduced using, preferably non-lethal methods, but also with judiciously use of lethal control. The specific species on the wildlife ranch will determine which management and control methods should be used. It was suggested that predation on wildlife ranches can be reduced when wildlife ranchers act themselves, as well as working together and with livestock producer organisations and organised agriculture.

Click here for the full text copy of this thesis:

Visit the Predation Management Centre website https://www.ufs.ac.za/pmc or contact via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Niel Viljoen Predation Management Programme

Monitor farms a source of good advice on predation management

The extensive training program conducted by predation specialist Niel Viljoen through Predation Management SA (PMSA) to train livestock producers, farm workers and professional predation management specialists, surely had its challenges under extreme drought conditions, with predators continuously changing and adapting their hunting preferences and consequently cause harm to livestock. The monitor farms established by the NWGA had a crucial role to play by constantly evaluating the effectiveness of different management tools that inform farmers through training to ensure the survival of their livestock and off-course the farming community as a whole.

Learning from experience and valuable information gained on these monitor farms over the past twelve years shows that training is extremely important to keep farmers well-informed. Training also empowers farmers with this ongoing process of not only adapting to predator behaviour but to implement pre-planned management strategies to reduce livestock losses.

Through this initiative of the PMSA, farmers can now look back on the achievements on monitor farms and learn by example, as management strategies are tested and evaluated on an annual basis. The valuable information gained on these monitor farms put livestock producers in a far better position than ever before to decide on the correct predation management program, combined with the different management strategies for that specific farm.

It is important to take into consideration the extremely harsh conditions experienced in livestock farming over the past four to five years, especially considering weather conditions and extreme drought in some parts of our country that farmers had to deal with. Monitor farms was a leading example of adapting to not only livestock and predator management strategies, but also the new challenges arising from outside the boundaries of the farm. The challenge surely was to try and keep a stable predation management plan in place no matter the impact of the drought. Stability through these extreme conditions was the key factor for financial benefit and a continued profitable enterprise. Losses other than predation especially from the drought have escalated to levels far more than expected. This had a ripple effect on some of our predators like the Black backed jackal, which by nature is a scavenger. The smell of dead animals in the air every night seems to have triggered this scavenger to more than normal hunting behaviour, leading to more casualties amongst livestock.

The drought had an indispensable effect on other animals not normally classified as predators that are causing damage to livestock. Forced by nature and the scarcity of their normal natural food source and driven by instinct, these animals had no other choice then to turn to a much easier prey, livestock. Examples of these animals that did have a direct effect on livestock losses are animals like the baboon, seagull, bush pig, Cape fox, African wildcat, Black eagle, Marchelle eagle and the biggest culprit of them all the honey badger. With all these new culprits threatening the livestock industry the challenge is up for even further improvement on training and management strategies.

With all these new challenges facing the livestock industry, the NWGA monitor farms remain of strategic importance to inform the content of the training program and advice on predation management to always be prepared to protect, secure and invest in a good and healthy biodiversity.

The financial support from AgriSETA, Wool- and Red Meat Industry is herewith acknowledged with appreciation

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