Local Research

Assessing the jackals among the sheep

Reviewer Prof. Brian Reilly speaks positively on the PredSA publication that was released in 2018.  He regards it as a high quality narrative, but its major value lies in the comprehensive literature cited.  At the end of each chapter, knowledge gaps are identified and suggestions raised as to where optimal scientific and financial investments in the future should lie.

The book will be useful in many areas of research and could also help change attitudes to land and wildlife management, reinforcing many underlying principles, but also acting as an engine for shifting attitudes to wildlife, its management and human ethical dilemma.

 Read his review

Click here for Scientific Assessment Publication


Scientific assessment (PredSA)


A single document containing detailed and current insight and knowledge into the complex situation of predation management has been finalized and was launched at the Nelson Mandela University on 16 November 2018.

In this historic first (nationally and globally), the Scientific Assessment for Livestock Predation and its Management in South Africa, will form the basis of contemplating policy development and will strengthen Government’s resolve to develop evidence-based policy and to recognize that in many complex situations, such as where there is predation on livestock, there is no silver bullet solution.

The partnership of Government, industry, stakeholders and leading researchers emerged to resource and formulate the Scientific Assessment and shows the strong commitment to address the conflicts around livestock predation management.

During this event, Prof. Graham Kerley of Nelson Mandela University provided an overview of the assessment and felt assured that the document will contribute towards reducing conflict as well as sustaining both agricultural production and biodiversity.

Sipiwo Makinana representing the wool industry highlighted the plights of emerging livestock farmers on predation and acknowledged the outcome of the assessment that commercial and communal livestock farmers face similar predation challenges.

Guillau du Toit, chairman of the Predation management forum (PMF) welcomed the assessment and referred to the chapter on policy and recommendations to government as the most essential part of the study as regulations and legislation, which impact the production practices of livestock and wildlife ranching producers, need an overhaul. He thanked Prof. Graham Kerley and his team for the inclusivity of the process and the involvement of a magnitude of researchers, authors and reviewers.

The implications of the findings for Government were welcomed by both the Department for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Mr. Joe Kgobokoe representing DAFF and Ms. Mancotywa from DEA acknowledged the requirement of both a strategic national research programme to provide evidence for policy development as well as closer cooperation between policy developers, livestock managers / farmers and researchers.

As this book is aimed at helping agricultural and conservation policymakers and managers to arrive at improved approaches for reducing livestock predation, while at the same time contributing to the conservation of our natural predators, the Predation Management Forum would like to thank all the roleplayers who made the realization of the publication possible.

Click here for publication Livestock Predation and its Management in South Africa - A Scientific Assessment 


PRED SA OUTCOMES:  Eyes on better leadership and policy in predation management 

The first scientific assessment of predation on livestock in South Africa (Pred SA) is almost complete.  The assessment, which started with fundraising six years ago, and which was well underway by 2016, is a first of its kind globally, and it is exciting to be able to claim it as a South African product.  

Wool farmer article by Dr. Dave Balfour - July 2018 



During the NWGA national congress mid June 2018, Prof. Graham Kerley, Nelson Mandel University announced that the scientific assessment for livestock predation and its management in South Africa has been completed and awaiting the signatures of both ministers for Environmental Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, before it can be printed and launched.  He elaborated on the content of the assessment and highlighted what the 9 chapters consist of. 

The outcomes of the assessment are the following:

  • Comprehensive assessment is a global first. When speaking to international agencies, they are able to ascertain that farmers are responsible in taking a scientific and robust approach in managing predators.
  • Economic impacts may be relatively small in terms of GDP, but high at the individual farmer scale, with impacts on the rural economy, employment and food security.
  • Commercial and communal livestock farmers face similar predation challenges
  • There is no simple solution to managing livestock predation, therefore there is no silver bullet.
  • Legislation and regulations need an overhaul. It is important to note that the book is policy informative and not policy prescriptive and that members need to engage with policy makers.
  • Adaptive management approach needed to better the use of existing information
  • Collaborative relationship between livestock managers, researchers and policy makers

Click here for full presentation notes.



The need for and value of a scientific assessment

Science can and must provide valid inputs into the challenges and policy needs of livestock predation management in South Africa through the PredSA scientific assessment process.  Furthermore, it is predicted that PredSA will give a much needed boost to building trans disciplinary research capacity and raise the standards of research on livestock predation and management in South Africa.  Click here for 3-page Commentary paper.

A link to the manuscript.


A systems-thinking analysis of predator conflict management on selected SA farms

Tim Snow, consultant in the fields of wildlife poisoning prevention and conflict management, as well as in all forms of wildlife management released a study on “A Systems-Thinking Based Evaluation of Predator Conflict Management on Selected South African Farms”.  Who is Tim Snow?

Through evaluation of predator conflict management methods from a systems thinking perspective, and by probing learning processes, the shortcomings or failure of inappropriate management responses to conflict situations were shown to exacerbate conflicts. Contrarily, it was illustrated that application of systems thinking and a process of addressing the root cause of conflict issues in predator conflict management, was a longer term solution. The study illustrated that application of long term proactive prevention and conflict avoidance principles, can offer long term solutions for predator conflict managers.  Read the full study.



Predators on private land

Published paper by Prof. Graham Kerley deals with the issue of predator management on private reserves and of particular relevance is the issue of sustainable predator densities. They assessed the area requirements for lion and cheetah, and also placed this in perspective of the policy guidelines.

Interesting to note is the evidence that is provided in that lions tend to be stocked sustainably (in terms of the available prey base), whereas cheetah tended (75% of properties) to be overstocked. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that none of these properties were able to support a single cheetah on the minimum area of 1000 ha as provided in the then relevant EC CAE policy. Read here for full publication.




Compensatory life-history responses of a mesopredator may undermine carnivore management efforts

The paper is very important in terms of understanding the interactions between reserves and farms and is based based on two years of jackal research from Oct 2011 – Oct 2013 in three conservation areas – Karoo National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. The research is the first time the response of jackals to lethal management has been quantified rigorously in SA, and it indicates that killing jackals is not effective without improving other management measures, notably fencing and hand-on management.

Journal of Applied Ecology 2015 - Paper by Liaan Minnie, Graham I. H. Kerley, both from the Department of Zoology, Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University as well as Angela Gaylard from the Scientific Services Division, South African National Parks.  Click here for full report

"New approach needed to outfox costly predators" - article by Heather Dugmore, which featured in the Business Day.  Read here



April 2016 - Prof. Graham Kerley, Distinguished Professor (Zoology) & Director for the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at NMMU provided clarity on the publication “Compensatory life-history responses of a mesopredator may undermine carnivore management efforts” by Minnie, Gaylard and Kerley, which was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

An abstract from the publication states:

“The lethal management of predators is the prevailing strategy to reduce livestock predation.  However, the highly adaptable nature of jackal and the combination of compensatory mechanisms such as increased reproduction and the potential for immigration allow these predators to persist in the face of severe anthropogenic mortality, possibly through the formation of a source-sink system”. 

This statement in the publication was viewed by some producers and certain members of the PMF “as a way to blame farmers that they are responsible for the predation problem (especially jackal) on their farms.”

As Prof. Kerley explains:

  • Despite the efforts of farmers to control jackal, jackal are able to persist on farms;
  • This persistence may be due to the ability of jackals to increase reproduction and / or breed at a younger age and to disperse (move).
  • Researchers also hypothesize that this persistence may in part be due to the movement of jackals from areas with higher population densities (sources) to areas where jackal are controlled and hence have low population densities (sinks).

Point (1) is not a new finding and is in fact the reason for the ongoing problem.  Point (2) emerges from this study as a partial explanation for point (1).  Point (3) is a testable hypothesis which arises from these findings, and which provides for a very useful, regional perspective of the issues around jackal management.

Based on the above, a more useful interpretation of the publication would be to recognise that there is now some biological / scientific evidence (as opposed to opinion) as to how jackal can persist despite control efforts.  Furthermore, our hypothesis regarding the importance of the movement of jackal provides an important and testable extension of the required management focus beyond the traditional farm-specific management of jackal.  So instead of being seen as blaming farmers for the problem, what this source-sink idea does is provide a rationale to bring farmers, reserve managers and other land use managers (e.g. game ranchers, forestry managers, etc.) together to develop a collective and regional approach to managing jackals.

Emerging from this publication is the idea that jackal management is a collective regional issue.  This idea is not explicitly stated in this publication, as that would be beyond the scope of the publication.

It is therefore clear that our research findings have considerable relevance to the PMF and the broader communities represented therein.  This also emphasises the need to provide more effective mechanisms of communicating science to the various stakeholders, as well as to decision makers.  We remain committed to serving in this role, within our available capacity, in addition to producing the high quality science and expertise that is our primary role.



Subscribe to this RSS feed