A workshop was facilitated by Prof Robert Fincham and Dr Karin Badenhorst on 2 April 2019 at SRU, to provide feedback on the Predation Management Workshop co-hosted by the Predation Management Forum at the Centre for African Conservation and Ecology (ACE) at the NMU Campus in Port Elizabeth on Thursday 21 February 2019.

The purpose of the ACE workshop was to consider the various pockets of research and development currently taking place at institutions across the country with the purpose of formulating a possible research and training agenda for Predation Management in South Africa.  It followed a detailed study that was published last year by ACE, titled "Livestock Predation and its Management in South Africa: A Scientific Assessment" with editors Graham Kerley, Sharon Wilson and Dave Balfour.   A wide range of research and industry experts and representatives from institutions across South Africa contributed, constituting 42 authors and 24 reviewers.

In South Africa “Conflict between livestock producers and predators, and the attempts to manage it, has persisted for over 350 years, with the most notable outcome being the eradication of the majority of the apex predators across much of South Africa. In contrast, the meso-predators, black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and caracal (Caracal caracal) are by all accounts thriving, at least as measured by their impact on livestock production.” 1

Human-wildlife conflict is likely to increase with growing human populations and the attendant drive for food security and food production, amongst other issues. This workshop was, therefore, timely and relevant to research areas at the School of Natural Resource Management and SRU on the George Campus of Nelson Mandela University.  The intention of the SRU/SNRM workshop was to bring a small group of staff and postgraduate students together to reflect on possibilities for future research.  The following key points were raised in the discussion:

  • The need for a shared database.
  • In terms of changing land use practices, aided by concerns about climate change, the re-wilding and wilding of landscapes in Europe and the UK offer interesting insights.
  • Policy needs to be formulated at the national level with local level management and capacity to turn the policy into reality – the policy-practice nexus.
  • Models to take into consideration could include alternatives for new farming practices, possibly starting with emerging farmers; predation as a psychological as well as an economic issue; models of predation management fixed in the present and a need for a new vision where land use and land use change in the context of climate change are fundamental; landscape scale of model development; and study into the adequacy of biodiversity corridors as a modelling concept.
  • Linked to model development, Long Term Social and Ecological (LTRER) research platforms are an important part of the academic contribution to predation management. There is an opportunity to constitute a group working on predator ecology that can feed into the LTSER.
  • Social Ecological Systems (SES) offer a way to gain insight into the whole picture of predation, a way of entering into complexity. SES involves systemic thinking and brings together practitioners and researchers in the search for common solutions.
  • The commonage and common property regimes as another area of research relevant to the topic.

For the full report, contact Ms Luzanne Visagie at luzanne.visagie@mandela.ac.za