Solutions sought for conflict between predators, livestock and farmers

11 April 2024

The Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) hopes portable kraals will assist with the conservation of predators and the protection of livestock.

In some parts of South Africa, farm animals and wild animals coexist in the same habitat. Sometimes, predators hunt on farms for their next meal due to a shortage of prey. This poses a threat to agricultural operations and results in significant financial losses for farmers.

According to CLT, it is best to secure livestock in the evening, when they are at their most vulnerable. However, a permanent structure is not an option for many farmers.

While some farmers turn to retaliation, CLT believes that reducing or removing predators is not a feasible or sustainable solution.

“The loss of livestock and the pervasive risk of livestock losses have a serious and multifaceted impact on farmers – economically, socially and emotionally,” says Jeannie Hayward of CLT.

“Livestock are sometimes killed in large numbers by predators and the costs associated with these losses can be devastating for both farmers and food security. If farmers do not have access to affordable and effective methods to avoid conflict and limit losses, predators usually come out on top and are killed.

Consequences of conflict

The eradication of larger predators from an area reduces competition for smaller predators and predation on prey species. “This causes an imbalance in the entire structure of the ecosystem and has a cumulative negative effect on biodiversity and how the ecosystem functions,” says Hayward.

“Many of the problems we see today are precisely because of such imbalances. Conservation-minded farmers are stewards of the land and are important allies in the quest for healthy, balanced ecosystems.”

Competition calls for workable solutions

Therefore, last month CLT launched the Mobi-kraal, a national competition for an affordable, secure, sustainable and portable kraal resistant to predators.

“After engaging with communities where conflict with leopards occurs, CLT realised the need for the design and testing of a portable kraal resistant to predators. The ultimate goal is to make this plan available to livestock farmers and conservation organisations worldwide,” says Hayward.

“While CLT focuses primarily on the sustainable survival of leopards, successful predator conflict mitigation ultimately leads to the broader conservation of various species.

Purpose of the competition

“The whole point of Mobi-kraal is to fully test the winning plan in practice and then make it freely available. One of the goals of the Mobi-kraal design is that it should be scalable and suitable for use in the small-scale, communal and commercial farming sectors. The hope is also that it will be affordable so that subsistence farmers can benefit from it.”

According to Hayward, the ideal Mobi-kraal design will provide protection against multiple predator species including leopards, jackals, caracals, hyenas and lions.

Competition information

Entries for the competition close on June 30. Participants can win up to R50 000 and R20 000 in travel and accommodation expenses to help CLT develop and test the design. Only South African citizens aged 18 and older may enter. Individuals as well as teams of up to five people may enter. The winners will be announced on August 10.

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