Predators and predation

What is predation?

Predation is when one organism preys on another. The predation that we refer to here, is what happens when one animal kills and eats another animal.

This is a natural process, but when predators kill domesticated livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, etc.) on farms, conflict arises between the predators that roam in these areas and the farmers, because the financial losses caused by these predators can be extensive. In South Africa, many wildlife ranchers are also increasingly experiencing problems in terms of predation on the wildlife kept on the wildlife ranches. In some cases certain herds of antelope are reported to show no increase due to the fact that predators kill all the offspring produced during one breeding season. In these cases, and in cases where rare species and/or colour variants of certain antelope species are kept, enormous financial losses can pose a threat to the livelihood of the wildlife rancher.

Main predator species known to cause damage on livestock farms and for wildlife ranchers
  • Black-backed jackal
  • Caracal
  • Vagrant domestic dogs 
  • Brown hyaena
  • Leopard
  • Chacma baboon
  • Cheetah
  • Lion
  • African Wild Dog

Information will be supplied on each of these species. The information leaflets will contain information obtained through research conducted (mainly in South Africa). The first in this series covers the black-backed jackal. Leaflets will continuously be updated with the latest research.

Jackal (2)

Black-backed jackal - Beanelri Janecke

Black-backed jackal

The black-backed jackal is a highly adaptable animal, enabling it to survive in many different environments and circumstances. It is one of the most successful predators in South Africa due to this adaptability. One example is adapting its diet to a particular situation.

Feeding habits
The black-backed jackal is a generalist predator, which means that it feeds on a wide range of food items; the diet is not restricted to specific prey or food items. It is an opportunist and an omnivore, meaning that it feeds on whatever is available and easily obtainable...not only meat, but also plant material such as fruits and seeds.

Studying the diet of predators is critical if we want to understand the ways in which it obtains its food in a particular environment or under a specific set of circumstances, and to understand how it influences its prey. A better understanding of the animal and its habits is necessary to ensure more effective management of the animal in human-wildlife conflict situations.

The document Bibliography_Predation leaflets contains the list of literature consulted to compile this information leaflet. Check in regularly for updated versions of the leaflets published here.


Faculty Manager: Velaphi Makgwahla
T: + 27 51 401 3199

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

natwet homepage edit new2

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.