Predation Management in Livestock Farming

© Roger de la Harpe
Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Livestock farmers suffer losses in the region of R2 billion each year due to predators, such as black-backed jackal, caracal, leopard, cheetah, brown hyena and even crows and stray dogs.

Where all predatory animals were classified as ‘problems’ in the past, new ways of thinking have led to the realisation that it is not the animal but predation that should be managed to reduce losses. As such, there has been a shift from non-selective killing to an integrated management approach where a combination of interventions are used interchangeably to prevent and decrease losses.

The shift is supported by scientific research that has found that indiscriminate killing of jackal and caracal to rarely address predation and in some instances even exacerbate the problem by changing the hierarchy in a pack of predatory animals. Traps and poison may also harm animals that are not responsible for damages and have a negative impact on the environment.

Animal Identification

All cattle, sheep, goats, ostriches, pigs and horses have to be branded with an identification mark, according to the Animal Identification Act (Act 6 of 2002). Animal identification not only makes it easier for owners to recover lost or stolen animals...more

Branding Methods

Animals can be tattooed or branded with a hot or frozen iron. Some farmers also acquire special approval to use other means of branding, with especially microchips being used for high-value animals....more

Guardians and Predation Management

Livestock can be guarded against predation in various ways, including through the use of herdsmen, guarding dogs, alpacas, donkeys, ostriches and innovative technology....more

Hunting and Predation Management

Shooting a predator should really be seen as a last resort when dealing with predation and then be aimed at the specific damage causing culprits. It is against the law to kill or even capture certain species without the necessary permits...more

Identification of African Wild Cat

The African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris lybica) is an indigenous species of Africa and an ancestor of the domestic cat. They look like domestic cats, but have longer legs enabling...more

Identification of Baboon

Chacma Baboons (Papio Ursunis) are seldom responsible for livestock losses, but troops may cause extensive damages to vineyards, vegetable and fruit orchards...more

Identification of Black-backed Jackal

To effectively manage predation, the damage causing animal needs to be accurately identified. Bite marks, bone damage, feeding patterns, tracks and pieces of hair should all be...more

Identification of Brown Hyena

The brown hyena (Hyena brunnea) is also called a strandwolf – an Afrikaans word meaning “beach wolf” when directly translated into English – because of its habit of...more

Identification of Bush Pig

Bush pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus) are found from the northern and eastern parts of South Africa from southern KwaZulu-Natal, the interior of the Free State, and the...more

Identification of Cape Clawless Otter

The Cape clawless otter (Aonyx Capensis) derive their name from the fact that their front feet are adapted to digging and therefore do not have any claws. Their hind feet...more

Identification of Cape Gulls

While they tend to favour fish, worms, molluscs, eggs and smaller birds, Cape Gulls (Larus Vetula) may also prey on small livestock, such as sheep and calves....more

Identification of Caracal

The Caracal (Felis caracal caracal) derives its name from the Turkish word “karakula”, which means black ear. As the name implies, the back of this wild cat’s...more

Identification of Cheetah

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) derives its name from the Hindi word “Chita”, which means “spotted one” because of the round black spots on its tawny to golden...more

Identification of Crows

Crows may cause extensive losses to livestock as well as to crop, fruit and grape farmers. Increasing numbers are resulting in growing concern over their impact on reptile, small bird...more

Identification of Domestic Dogs

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) may cause huge damage on livestock farms. Some people think it is only hungry stray dogs that cause damage, but in reality it often is well-fed family...more

Identification of Eagles

Eagles and other birds of prey are often wrongfully accused of killing small livestock, because they will continue feeding on a dead animal, unlike caracal or jackal that will hide as...more

Identification of Honey Badger

The Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) is a tough, thick-skinned weasel, which is also why one of South Africa’s first Infantry Combat Vehicles took its name from the...more

Identification of Leopard

The name of the leopard (Panthera Pardus) has been derived from Greek words that means lion and panther, because of an earlier belief that leopards were a hybrid...more

Identification of Spotted Hyena

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is the largest of the hyena family. They look like very large, heavily built dogs, usually with a length of 120 cm to 180 cm and weight...more

Identification of the Cape Fox

With an adult length of 86 to 97 cm and weight of 2,5 kg to 4 kg, the Cape Fox (Vulpus chama), also known as the Silver Fox, is one of the smallest canid species in South Africa...more

Looking After Your Predators

Where predators used to be seen as the “enemy” that has to be destroyed at all costs, farmers these days realise that besides helping to maintain a balanced ecosystem, residential predators may actually help to combat livestock losses....more

On-farm Practices to Prevent Stock Theft

Besides following the law to make it easier for the police to catch and prosecute thieves, the National Stock Theft Prevention Unit gives the following advice on ways in which farmers can protect themselves against this crime....more

Predation Management and the Law

Predation is one of the greatest threats to the economic survival of new, emerging as well as commercial livestock farmers. It is also one of the biggest reasons why many farmers are moving away from livestock production....more

Predation Management Forum

Livestock producers take sustainable predation management so serious that the National Wool Growers’ Association, the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, the Mohair Growers’...more

Stock Theft Prevention

Red meat producers annually lose hundreds of millions of Rand due to stock theft. The National Stock Theft Prevention Forum has the following tips that would not only help protect farmers against stock theft but also ease prosecution....more

Technology and Predation Management

The development of new technology is allowing farmers to better protect and keep track of livestock and predators. The use of tags, cameras and GPS technology, for example, can be used to track and observe predators...more

The Use of Poison in Predation Management

Pesticides, which include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, additives and adjuvants may only be used for the purposes indicated on their labels....more

Traps and Predation Management

Traps can be used to catch predators, but the traps should be set up by an expert and be used in a way that does not injure the animals. Permits are required to capture protected or threatened species....more