Stories and Traveltips

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Predator Control on Sheep Farms in the Karoo, Grahamstown, Settler Country Eastern Cape.

Predator control on sheep farms in the Eastern Cape is an ongoing problem. The main culprits are rooikat (caracal) and jackal. What farmers find most infuriating is that, very often, only a small portion of the carcass is eaten, with the remainder going to waste.

Many solutions have been tried over the years, including fencing, hunting dogs, poisoned carcasses, gin traps, sheep collars, etc.  Most are unacceptable because they indiscriminately kill species other than the problem species and/or are exceptionally cruel. Farmers have thus long been searching for an acceptable solution and, frustrated, are willing to try almost anything to solve the problem. 

An enterprising student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown came up with what she thought was an innovative solution – extend the use of biological techniques used to control insects to the control of jackal. Her plan was simple – catch the males and neuter them. Easier said than done of course, but it seemed like an ideal solution because it:

(a) is not cruel (unless you happen to be a male jackal of course)
(b) would have little impact on the environment other than fewer jackal offspring, and
(c) would have no negative impact on species other than jackal.

She enthusiastically attended farmer’s association meetings in an attempt to gather support for her plan but was disappointed by the lukewarm response she received.

Eastern Cape farmers are taciturn and were too polite to throw cold water on her ideas. But after several months of frustrating meetings, a crusty, wizened old farmer stood up and said: “Maam, I am just a simple farmer but I don’t understand”. She looked at him condescendingly and said: “What don’t you understand – let me try to explain.” To which he replied: “The jackal are trying to eat our sheep, not ?<!+* them”. The meeting broke up in disarray and this approach to predator control on the sheep farms in the Eastern Cape has since been abandoned.

Grahamstown is on the N2 west of East London, which is at the intersection of the N2 with the N6. Alan McIver NFPredator

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Last update: 2014-02-28 22:37
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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Comment of Harold Churchill:
E-Shepherd is currently busy with a trial using a collar that keeps Rooikat and Jackal away from sheep in a non-lethal,ecologically and ethically acceptable manner that protects biodiversity. Regards, Harold Churchill. 083-454-6212.
Added at: 2011-02-02 12:10