‘Farmer scientists’ needed

Here’s a chance to help farmers and policymakers address the problem of livestock predation, say Graham Kerley and Craig Tambling of the
Centre for African Conservation Ecology.

The impact of jackal and caracal predation on livestock is considered a substantial risk for farmers. The issue is complicated by the lack of scientifically sound information to inform and advise government policy and management. With this in mind, the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth has been undertaking research on jackal, caracal and other predators for a number of years.

One of the constraints to this work is the lack of research that is regionally and nationally focused, rather than property-focused. Ideally, the research should cover the full range of land uses – smallstock farming, conservation, and so forth.  To overcome this challenge, the Centre for African Conservation Ecology is keen to recruit ‘farmer scientists’ interested in collecting reproductive, dietary and genetic information on the caracal and black-backed jackal. Such information has obvious benefits for the management of these species.

The centre particularly wants to make use of the fact that many farmers now operate their own camera traps. They believe that, collectively, this information will be of enormous value. Farmers using camera traps may be able to help measure predation on a larger scale than simply on their own property. Through the use of the images obtained from these camera traps, the centre aims to investigate jackal and caracal activity patterns and prey availability.

They also expect that this will assist in describing the behaviour of these species in relation to various control measures or land-use practices.

Landowners and managers who would like to participate can contact Dr CJ Tambling at the Centre for African Conservation Ecology on 041 504 4279 or email [email protected].