Project 3: Canis-Caracal Programme

Increasing human populations and related activities inevitably lead to rising levels of human-wildlife-livestock conflict on the African continent. One of the consequences of these conflicts (that may often be fatal to human beings) is an important cause for the demise of the flagship predator, namely the African lion. Other larger predators are also affected in this way.
Although it may seem impossible for people and some dangerous wildlife to coexist, efforts should be stepped up to find long-term solutions that can mutually benefit both the rural people and wildlife.

Description: Home Page Photo - Caracal Tags: Caracal; rooikat; wildcat

Description: Photo of two black-backed jackals Tags: Photo, jackal, black backed, black-backed, black, backed
Black-backed jackal

The black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and the caracal (Caracal caracal) are two important medium-sized predator species in South African wildlife, but they also have a negative impact on sectors of the South African livestock industry, specifically sheep and goat farmers. Reports suggest that cattle farmers and the wildlife ranching industry are also increasingly experiencing losses as a result of predation.

A myriad of methods have been used over the past centuries to deter (non-lethal) or kill (lethal) the larger African predators. Despite ongoing efforts over the past decades to reduce the annual losses and huge financial impact to the livestock sector caused specifically by the black-backed jackal and the caracal, little progress has been made. To the contrary, despite large numbers of these two predators being killed annually, reports suggest that predation is on the increase.

There is a paucity of available data to substantiate the annual losses incurred by livestock farmers, but a recent estimate claimed that it amounts to well over R450 million (7.3 SAR = 1 US$; July 2006). To put it in perspective, stock theft amounted to R262 million during the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. It is difficult to see how these losses can continue unabated.

With a view to manage these two predator species and reduce the financial impact on the livestock industry, a comprehensive initiative, the Canis-Caracal Programme, was launched during December 2004 by ALPRU.

The Canis-Caracal Programme is conducted in three phases, comprising several independent but related facets that will run concurrently, namely:

Phase 1 :- collect and interpret all available data and information and after scientific evaluation, relevant and appropriate information on the black-backed jackal and the caracal will be disseminated to stakeholders and role players.
Phase 2 :- initiate, support, and conduct scientific studies on the ecology of these two predator species and their natural food base.
Phase 3 :- assist, in partnership with farmers and conservation authorities, in formulating new or updating existing scientific management strategies and policies to regulate these two predator species at national and provincial levels.

As an integral part of the initiative, the human or social component will be closely studied and monitored. For example, what are the attitudes of farmers and can it be changed to assist in making tangible progress in order to reduce the impact of predation.

Despite intense focus on most large predator species over centuries, and specifically during the past few decades on the black-backed jackal and the caracal, there are still much to be learnt. For example, do we really know what role these two predator species play in the ecology, especially with regard to their food habits and natural prey base? How much damage do these two predator species cause to livestock and game? How successful are efforts to manage and reduce their impact? With regard to all the questions, but especially the latter two, very little data exist for most scenarios in South Africa. The available information is fragmented and poorly documented; often it is only vested in a few individuals. Furthermore, the information is often and invariably tainted by emotional perceptions.

Please note that ALPRU does not advocate a 'wipeout' strategy of these two predators species (this strategy has NOT SUCCEEDED in the past!), but endeavours to develop practical management strategies to reduce the impact on the farming community in South Africa as a matter of high priority. Such a strategy aims at removing those predating individuals who repeatedly cause damage to livestock.

If you can assist ALPRU in reaching its goal to reduce the impact of these two predators, please contact us for more information on this topic.


Elfrieda Lötter: Marketing Manager
T: +27 51 401 2531

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