Researcher: Region: Dr.Bool SmutsRegion: South Africa
BackgroundThe Landmark Foundation, a South African conservation and sustainable development NGO, was established in 2004 and its vision is to establish conservation land uses that are economically viable alternatives to anti-conservation activities. The Landmark Foundation is involved in tourism, recycling, reserve establishment, renewable energy and species conservation work.
ObjectivesThe Trust is assisting in the production of a predator management manual in English and Afrikaans. The aim of the manual is to reach some of the 20 000 livestock farmers in South Africa to promote new methods of ethical farming and thus to help reduce the conflicts between economic practices and predators.
The manual is to be published through the Landmark Foundation; its aim is to secure natural predation as a process and pattern within productive agricultural and game farming landscapes. Predators are indicators of ecosystem health and as such their conservation, together with associated wildlife species, is the objective of the Foundation’s programme.
MethodologyThere are an estimated 20 000 livestock farmers in South Africa. The Landmark Foundation aims to reach 4 000 of these through the dissemination of an English manual to be printed as an educational tool. Assuming that each book reaches three people, it is estimated that it would reach about 12 000 people directly.
A further 2 000 books printed in Afrikaans will potentially reach another 6 000 people.
Promoted in the manual are both new and adapted methods that are being used in various areas across the world. These proven methods are leading the industry in promoting ecological and ethical rangeland livestock husbandry. The methods are thus innovative in scope, and generally regarded as best practice the world over.
The content of the manual will be divided into four sections:
1. Explanation of the non-lethal, ethical and ecologically acceptable approach.
2. Predator species descriptions, ecology, and social behaviour.
3. Assessment of predatory losses.
4. Alternative methods being promoted.
These methods not only provide for ethical farming, but also aim to produce benefits for biodiversity on farms. The array of acceptable production methods, their application, and details of further assistance, will be made available in the publication. These methods include:
1. Livestock guarding animals and herders
• Livestock Guarding Dogs
• Ostriches/Zebra/Black Wildebeest
• Fencing (fencing is often part of the problem in some respects)
• Livestock protection collars , e.g. King Collars and Dead Stop Collars
• Bell Collars – work well with guarding animals
• Cellular phone technology collars and motion detecting devices.
• Alarms and sirens
4. Herd management
• Lambing coordination
• Stock rotation methods
• Breed selections
5. Economic Tools
• Green labelling and value adding – e.g. Fair Game™
The programme has the following aspects to it:
1. Leopard and predator rescues, treatments and releases: The Foundation has the voluntary collaboration of 14 veterinarians in the region to rescue leopards from traps. So far 27 leopards have been rescued, of which 24 have occurred between January 07 and July 09.
2. Mitigation: Farmers are provided with holistic and acceptable means of reducing the conflicts between their economic practices and predators, as well as support and education for the agricultural sector. This includes the introductions of 12 Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to livestock herds, Alpacas, sheep protective collars, live traps and farmer extension advice. A practical manual has been available for farmers on holistic, non-lethal and ethical management of predation on their farms, with a revised edition in 2009, with the assistance of the Wilderness Safaris Trust. A new project has begun on the management of stray domestic dogs, which is often the cause of livestock losses – for which natural predators are blamed.
3. Advocacy: A national advocacy drive is run to outlaw gin and poison traps, and hunting dog packs from agricultural production, and to effect legislation changes to allow for the protection of predators on rangelands.
4. Research: Research is conducted on leopards and other predators, and the effectiveness of Foundation interventions. There are 13 GPS-collared leopards in the region.
5. Habitat: The expansion of habitats for predators through the establishment of private nature reserves and collaboration with participating farmers.
6. Green Branding: Promotion of the establishment of environmentally friendly meats and fibre products, and brand, Fair Game™, as well as a consumer campaign to encourage retailers and producers into using ecologically sustainable methods in managing farmer-predator conflicts.